Frank Clark Courtesy Linwood R. Leland

SOUTH PORTLAND — Deputy Chief Amy Berry this week said the Police Department will do its best to keep things running smoothly as it prepares to lose two longtime leaders.

Police Chief Edward Googins in front of the South Portland station. He announced his retirement in July. Shawn Patrick Ouellette / PPH

“The pending retirement of Chief Edward Googins gives us time to fill the position and transition,” Berry said. “Lt. Frank Clark’s departure was a little more sudden, and that leaves us with a sense of urgency. He has tasks and responsibilities that will have to be accounted for.”

On July 25, Clark was selected by Portland City Manager Jon Jennings to permanently replace former Chief Michael Sauschuck, who resigned a year ago.

Jennings is set to bring his recommendation to the City Council on Wednesday, Sept. 4, with Clark expected to start the next day if the council approves.

Berry said the department is still trying to work out how Clark’s responsibilities will be performed, but she’s confident in her colleagues’ ability to take on extra tasks.

She said his duties include overseeing the community response unit, professional standards, and accreditation.

Googins, meanwhile, announced his retirement July 10 and is set to leave in January after 47 years in law enforcement, and 25 years as South Portland’s chief.

According to both Googins and Berry, there is no schedule in place to hire someone to fill Clark’s position. Berry said anyone who is qualified can apply, but preference will be given to someone in the department who hopes to move up the ranks.

The candidate selected, she said, will be subject to the approval of City Manager Scott Morelli. She also noted the process can’t begin until the department has a specific date for Clark’s departure.

Clark, a resident of Scarborough, began his career in South Portland in 1988 as a patrol officer, and served as a narcotics officer with the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency from 1991 to 1998. During that time, he became a detective and held the position for four years. In 2002, he was promoted to sergeant. He has been a lieutenant for the last 14 years.

I’ve enjoyed every minute of my time at this department, and I consider these people my family,” Clark said. “To some level, it was a bittersweet decision, but I am looking forward and humbled by the (Portland) opportunity.”

“Clark has been an integral part of our community. He is an intelligent, hardworking individual who understands the challenges of contemporary policing,” Googins said. “He is someone who truly cares about the profession and the impact the profession has for the community.”

Morelli said the city’s Human Resources Department is still working on creating an advertisement for the chief of police position, which is expected to be posted in early to mid-August.

According to the city website, applicants must be certified by the Maine Criminal Justice Academy and will be reviewed two weeks after the closing deadline. Morelli said submissions will likely be due at the end of September.

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.

“It will be a tough process, partly because we haven’t had to do this for 25 years,” Morelli said. “We’re losing a good one – two good ones – but we’re lucky that Chief Googins is sticking around until early January to give us time for a smoother transition.”

As Clark prepares for the next chapter of his career, he said he wishes the best for his colleagues and is grateful for all of his memories and experiences.

“When I’m no longer here, I hope they still carry on the philosophy of being community-oriented, and continue working to earn the trust and support of the community,” Clark said. “Maintaining those relationships and that engagement, looking out for the public and for each other … that’s what matters.”