Officers from all over southern Maine gathered on Tuesday to honor Gorham Police Chief Ronald Shepard, who retired after serving the town 42 years.

Shepard, 66, was the chief for the past 19 years and only the town’s sixth chief since the department was founded 50 years ago. He retired on Election Day and ran unopposed for a three-year term on the Town Council.

Shepard’s retirement observance closed down the section of Gorham Bypass between Narragansett Street and Route 25 shortly after noontime. Police officers stood in front of cruisers that lined the highway. Shepard walked through the throng, greeting the lineup of officers, fellow chiefs and other municipal employees.

Windham Police Chief Rick Lewsen paid homage to Shepard.

“He was my roommate at the academy,” Lewsen recalled. “He’s a really good guy.”

Others who attended the ceremony included Gorham Police officers, Gorham Fire Chief Robert Lefebvre, Capt. Mike Nugent of Westbrook Police, Chief Kevin Schofield of Bridgton and numerous officers from several communities. Several women from the Gorham Municipal Center received a hayride to the ceremony

A police motorcycle contingent with lights flashing and sirens blaring escorted Shepard and his wife, Debra, to their home in style. Shepard drove an antique Corvette.

Shepard, a Gorham High School graduate and a military veteran, was hired as a Gorham patrol officer in 1972 and worked his way up through the department ranks. Town Manager David Cole appointed Shepard as the town’s chief in 1995.

In October, the Town Council named Gorham’s Lt. Christopher Sanborn as acting chief. Sanborn’s appointment became effective on Tuesday.

Longtime Gorham Police Chief Ronald Shepard retires in an Election Day ceremony. Accompanied by his wife, Debra, Shepard greets an outpouring of well-wishers at a retirement celebration on the Gorham Bypass.

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