WESTBROOK – Police Chief William Baker will retire from full-time law enforcement next month to take a job with a firm that works for the FBI, the chief announced Friday.

City officials will hold a news conference on Monday to announce plans that may include the creation of a public safety director’s position, to oversee the city’s police and fire departments, Baker said.

Baker, who became chief in 2007, said he regrets leaving the position but he looks forward to the challenges of a new venture dedicated to keeping police officers safe on the job.

“Westbrook has been a fun place to work, so it’s a tough situation to walk away from,” Baker said Friday. “But police leadership is getting to be a younger man’s job and it’s getting tougher to keep such a frenetic pace.”

Baker’s last day as chief will be Feb. 4. He will start his new job Feb. 7.

Mayor Colleen Hilton and City Administrator Jerre Bryant will hold a news conference at 11 a.m. Monday at the public safety building. Neither could be reached for comment late Friday.

Baker, 55, will work for Keane Federal Systems, an FBI contractor in McLean, Va. He will be assigned to the federal agency’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division in Clarksburg, W.Va. He plans to work from his home in Portland.

Baker will travel throughout the Northeast as an instructor for a program designed to reduce the number of police officers who are killed and assaulted each year. The FBI provides the instruction free to police departments, and the program uses information gleaned from interviews with prisoners who have killed police officers, Baker said.

Baker started his career 36 years ago as a patrolman in Cumberland. This isn’t the first time he has left traditional policing to be an instructor.

From 1998 to 2004, he was assistant director of international training for the U.S. Department of Justice, mentoring national police leaders in 40 countries in Latin America, Africa and the former Soviet Union. He then formed a private firm, The Emergence Group, providing similar services as a consultant until he became police chief in Westbrook.

City Council President Brendan Rielly credited Baker with quieting union turmoil and promoting professionalism in the police department.

“He’s been one of the best hires we’ve had in Westbrook,” Rielly said.

“He’s done a tremendous job leading the police department from a time when there was a lot of strife to a time when it is a solid, respected, hard-working department. We’re going to miss him very, very much.”

In Friday’s news release, Baker thanked Westbrook police officers and city officials for their commitment, professionalism and support. He also said it has been a privilege to serve the residents of Westbrook.

“I have given the men and women of the Westbrook Police Department and the citizens of this great city every ounce of energy and commitment I could muster,” Baker said in the release. “I hope that I have left them all better off than I found them.”

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

[email protected]