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Police chief retires after decades of service

Nov. 26, 2013
By Carley Dangona


AGAWAM – After just more than four decades with the force, Police Chief Robert Campbell has decided to retire.

Jan. 3, 2014 will be Campbell’s last day of service, two months prior to his 41st anniversary as an officer. He has served as chief for the Agawam Police Department since 1994.

“It’s been a hell of a ride, better than any roller coaster I’ve been on,” Campbell said. “Some days move at the speed of light and others move at a snail’s pace.”

He added, “The decision to retire was very, very difficult. [This job] becomes part of your identity.”

When asked what obstacles he’s faced in his career, Campbell told Reminder Publications he’s only faced “challenges.” He cited drafting two budgets within his first year as chief and computerizing the department as some of the challenges he’s encountered.

“Since 9/11 money has been tighter and tighter – the DARE grants were gone, the policing money was gone. “If there’s a grant out there, we find it,” Campbell commented.

Campbell, an Agawam native, explained that his family has lived in town for generations – as far back as the Civil War.

Why Agawam? “Everything [about it] – the blend of people that live here, the character of the community – it’s hard to describe. It’s just a nice place to live,” Campbell explained.

When asked what he hoped his legacy would be, he answered, “That I left the department in better shape than I found it.”

Most of all Campbell, 62, is going to miss the people in the department. He said he’s going to miss greeting everyone in the morning and getting the latest case updates.

Campbell insisted that he would not sit by a scanner once retired. “When I’m done, I’m done – a graceful departure,” he said.

“I could’ve left at 55, but I enjoy the job, I enjoy the people I work with and I enjoy being out in the community,” Campbell stated.

He looked forward to spending more time with his family. “It’ll be nice to be able to jump in the convertible on a Wednesday and go the [Norman] Rockwell museum with my wife.”

Campbell doesn’t have any specific plans for retirement.

“I’m playing it by ear,” he said. Even skydiving isn’t out of the question. “It depends on how bored I get,” he added.

In addition to his role as chief, Campbell also serves as president of the Western Massachusetts Chiefs of Police, represents Hampden County on the executive board of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police, and serves as director-at-large for the Northeast Association of Chiefs of Police. For all three, he has served in numerous capacities for 10 to 15 years or more.

A highlight of his career was taking part of a motorcade for President George W. Bush, with whom he had the brief chance to speak when Bush arrived on the Logan Airport tarmac in Boston.

Campbell said that the president thanked the officers for their service and was very engaging – the secret service actually had to move him along to maintain the schedule.

“It was a proud moment,” Campbell said.

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