South Portland Police Chief Edward Googins served in both the Portland and South Portland police departments over a decades-long career. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald

SOUTH PORTLAND — After 47 years in law enforcement, Chief of Police Edward Googins will retire in January.  

Googins, who announced his retirement July 10, said his relationship with the community and working closely with city residents was one of the most rewarding aspects of his career.

Good relationships don’t happen overnight. You have to establish a rapport and gain trust before forming meaningful connections,” he said Wednesday. And I believe an agency is only as strong as the relationships it builds with its community. That for me was always very fulfilling to try and accomplish.” 

Most recently, he said, police have been working closely with residents on how to reduce speeding in several areas of the city. He said by meeting with residents and coming up with a strategy to address their concerns, people feel more respected and heard, and are more likely to have respect for the department.

Googins joined the Portland Police Department as a cadet in 1971 went on to a successful career with the department, retiring as captain of patrol after 25 years of service. In September 1994, he became South Portland’s chief of police. 

He said working in law enforcement isn’t easy; every officer has their own style, he noted, and every person they work with in the community is dealing with something entirely different from the next. 

“Law enforcement is ripe for learning and mentorship opportunities, and in this day and age when the job is so complicated, it’s good to have people to lean on and learn from,” Googins said. “We deal with mental health issues, substance use, social disputes, and they require different skills and traits then your typical work of investigating crime and catching bad guys.” 

He said “failures” in different cases through the years have had the biggest impact on him, and influence how the department addresses similar issues in the future. While he wouldn’t specify, he said those failures gave him an opportunity to reflect, re-evaluate and relearn. 

It’s very hard to look at your failure, acknowledge it and try to figure out how you can do it better in the future and learn by it,” he said. “We’ve had many more successes than failures, but it’s those few failures that have had the biggest impact on me.” 

Lt. Frank Clark, who has worked with Googins for almost 25 years, said his boss is a person who demonstrates integrity and thoughtfulness every day.

“He’s so down to earth, and talks to any one of us here about anything,” Clark said. “He really cares about the men and women in the department, and that will be a part of his legacy.”

According to the city website, the human resources department will advertise the position. Applicants for chief of police must be certified by the Maine Criminal Justice Academy. Applications will be reviewed two weeks after the closing deadline.

A committee that includes the city manager, the director of human resources and the chairperson of the city Civil Service Commission will determine the top candidate, who will have to be approved by the City Council. According to Human Resources Specialist Karla Giglo, the timeline for application submissions is yet to be determined.

Googins said he hopes officers in his department – past, present and future – remember to treat their people well and do the best they can.  

It is the people you work with, and work for, that make the difference,” the chief said. You always have to try and do the best you can because not everything we try and accomplish comes out well. But that’s just part of the job.” 

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