When Lisa Beecher took over as chief of the University of Southern Maine police force in 1998, campus officers were thought of as parking police.

Beecher helped change that, positioning the university police as a department oriented to helping students succeed.

Beecher will retire at the end of the week after 33 years in law enforcement, the past 12 leading USM’s department.

“Her sense of responsibility and ethical stewardship have been the hallmarks of her tenure,” said Craig Hutchinson, vice president of student and university life.

Lt. Ron Saindon will take over as interim chief, overseeing 12 officers.

Beecher came to USM from the Portland Police Department, where she spent 21 years, most of them as a detective investigating domestic violence and juvenile crime.

When she arrived at USM, she worked to educate her staff about relationship violence.

“Here at USM, campus policing is a little different than municipal policing,” she said Wednesday. “The community is very close, so the needs of that community are a high priority.”

She encouraged officers to collaborate with other departments on USM’s campuses in Portland and Gorham.

Beecher also worked with the public safety directors at the University of Maine campuses in Orono and Farmington to have the Legislature recognize campus police as the equivalent of municipal police forces.

Beecher had inside knowledge of what it’s like to be a USM student. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from USM in 1980, while working the midnight-to-8 a.m. shift for the Portland police.

“It’s been a really good career,” Beecher said. “I got a lot of satisfaction out of helping people.”