Published in the Current
On Christmas Day Richard Lindsey will get an extra gift: freedom. The 60-year-old sergeant on the Cape Elizabeth police force has served 30 years, literally half his life, with the department. His last two shifts will be Christmas Eve and Christmas night.
He has served four police chiefs under four town managers, in four different police stations around Cape Elizabeth.
“It goes by quick,” Lindsey said.
And he has seen a lot of change in town. “This was all farmland,” Lindsey said, gesturing to the area southeast of the town center. He remembers when Wainwright Circle was a big potato farm.
“It’s grown a lot,” he said of the town. And even buildings that existed when he came to Cape have seen growth and change.
“They’ve rebuilt all the schools,” he said.
Broad Cove was just being developed when he started in the department, when police offices were over in the fire station on Shore Road, right by the South Portland town line.
He had spent just a few months in the Portland Police Department that year, 1971, and came over to Cape. He said the challenges are different, and likes the breadth of duties he has in Cape.
While Cape’s criminal activity tends to be smaller and less frequent, he has been involved in two homicide investigations. “You’ve still got to be prepared,” he said.
And bigger departments have specialists for different kinds of police work. But Cape’s officers have to do everything and keep up their training across the range of police skills.
Lindsey, from East Machias, served in the Air Force on Guam, from 1960 to 1964, and he still talks about it with a smile. “It was great.”
Then he came back and worked on a timber crew and in a Georgia Pacific paper mill before going to the Portland Police Department.
Chief Neil Williams said he knew the time would come when Lindsey would leave. “We just didn’t know when,” he said. Williams said the department will fill the empty sergeant’s spot by promoting within, and will hire a reserve officer to fill that vacancy.
Williams said he wishes Lindsey well, and said he has more than earned his keep, especially working swing shift, for 30 years. “That’s a long time,” Williams said.
Working swing shift has been tough, Lindsey said, and it’s time to stop working two weeks of early shift, two weeks of days, then lates and then nights, each for two weeks.
“The older you get the tougher it is,” he said.
And, of course, the town’s bad guys don’t age at the same rate. “At my age you’re too old to be out chasing kids,” he said with a laugh.
But Lindsey said he will stick around the area, even if he does take a few weeks “down South” after he retires. He’ll keep his house in Portland, and his daughters and their families – including four grandchildren – live nearby.
He loves to hunt and fish and golf, so Maine’s a good place for him to be. He said he was sorry that he wouldn’t get to see the inside of the new police station, though he admitted he would probably go visit his colleagues, and would be back in Cape.
“It’s been a great community, and I have lots of friends here,” Lindsey said.