19 August 2020

The Kittery Police Department is pleased with last night’s School Committee decision to embark on a multi-year, community-focused effort to evaluate the School Resource Officer role in Kittery Schools. We are committed to working together with the school community on this effort and to providing a safe environment for all students, staff and facility.

The Police Department has been frustrated that we were not involved earlier in the conversations surrounding this position.

As evidence by the overwhelming community engagement, the S.R.O. program has been a valuable asset to the students, teachers and parents. We have heard many examples of how the SRO, Officer Jay Durgin has been a mentor, advisor, confidant, counselor, coach and positive role model in our schools.

It is my belief that the most successful way to police our community is to ensure we are positively engaged in the community we serve. We are here and listening. We have worked diligently to forge positive relationships with all members of our community. We are committed to constantly seek ways to improve on those services, including those provided by the School Resource Officer. Completely cutting ties between the police and students is a step backwards in developing positive relationships with all members of the community.

I have heard many comments, both positive and negative, about police officers in “uniform” and what the “uniform” represents. I will say without hesitation that I personally am proud of the uniforms I have worn and the public service I have provided in my 38 years in law enforcement. Equally as proud are the men and women of the Kittery Police Department. The members of the Kittery Police Department are some of the most professional, dedicated and caring law enforcement officers I have ever had the good fortune of working with. The Kittery community is fortunate that their Police Department employs some of finest law enforcement personnel anywhere. These officers are human beings. They are husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, brothers and sisters. The uniform does not define the person or their ability to be a compassionate, professional police officer.

We have all learned something from these recent events. We now need to use that knowledge to move forward in a positive manner to make certain that, with the help of our community, the Kittery Police Department can continue to offer, and improve upon, the services that our community demands.

Robert Richter Chief of Police

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