Pubdate: Sun, 29 Feb 2004
Source: Portland Press Herald (ME)
Copyright: 2004 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.
Author: Justin Ellis


BRIDGTON - New Police Chief David Lyons has finally come full circle
in a long career. He took his first job in Bridgton 31 years ago, and
now hopes he's taken his last here as well. Lyons was sworn in as
chief Feb. 13, replacing the man who hired him in 1973, former Chief
Robert Bell. After Bell announced his retirement in December, the town
went into an intensive two-month search process, examining candidates
from Massachusetts and Connecticut.

In the end, a search committee chose Lyons, originally from just down
Route 117 in Hiram, who has experience with the Portland Police, the
Oxford County Sheriff's Office and the Maine State Police.

Now that he's the top cop in Bridgton, Lyons hopes to continue in a
long tradition of community service. He also hopes people regard him
as just another police officer.

"I'm not so vain I need to be called chief or the boss all the time,"
he joked recently.

But Lyons, 52, is serious about his goals for the police department,
including ongoing training for officers and broader interaction with
residents and town officials.

Although Bridgton's police force is relatively small, with about a
dozen officers, he believes that's no excuse to fall behind on law
enforcement trends. He also wants the department to continue making
strides in areas like domestic violence prevention and outreach and
the DARE program for school-age kids.

Lyons takes a personal interest in Drug Abuse Resistance Education, as
the only officer in the department trained to teach the program. He
said it's important for police to be active in schools, helping
teachers and kids in crime prevention education.

"Being a police officer in schools in a positive way is an important
part of our job," he said.

Growing up in Hiram, Lyons said he was impressed by state troopers'
professionalism and decided he wanted to help others.

He enrolled at Southern Maine Vocational Technical Institute - now
Southern Maine Community College - in the early 1970s and later went
into cadet training at the Portland Police Department as part of the
Model Cities Program.

Lyons applied to become a patrolman in Bridgton in 1973 and was hired
by Bell. He said he wanted to move back to the Lakes Region to raise
his family. Lyons was a patrolman for more than 18 months before he
decided to join the state police.

For the next 23 years he worked for the state police, as a trooper on
the Maine Turnpike and in the major crimes squad and the statewide
special investigations unit.

He retired from the state police in 1997, but returned to Bridgton a
year later as a patrolman. Lyons said the urge was too strong for him
and Delores, his wife of 31 years. Lyons said he's adjusting to being
in charge and to administrative duties. Luckily, Bell lent his 32
years of experience to help in the transition.

Bridgton Selectman Robert "Woody" Woodward said the search committee
struggled with the issue of promoting from within the department and
hiring someone from outside. With Lyons, the town will get the best of
both, he said.

"It's like the high school kid who heads off to the wide world,
studies and gets experience, then comes home and uses it for the
community," he said.

Woodward said the town was looking for a new chief to continue to work
with the community, particularly in the schools. Already Lyons has
lived up to that expectation, through working with kids in the
elementary school, he said.

"The days of the police chief who's the best one for breaking up
fights at bars are over," Woodward said, "You need someone with
leadership skills and communication skills. Dave's got that."
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