Bob Savary completed his 27-year career with the Bath Police Department Aug. 1 as deputy chief. He is now a command evaluation review officer with the U.S. Navy’s Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion and Repair. Alex Lear / The Forecaster

BATH — After a nearly 27-year career with the Police Department that saw him work his way up from officer to deputy chief, Bob Savary has retired to follow a different career path.

The 50-year-old Bath resident’s last day with the Police Department was Aug. 1. Four days later, he began work as a command evaluation review officer with the U.S. Navy’s Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion and Repair, serving under the U.S. inspector general. He works in the SupShip building across from Bath Iron Works.

“I’m pretty excited; it’s a good change,” Savary said at his home Aug. 2, noting that he thought his background in criminal and police misconduct investigations would “translate pretty well in this new endeavor … (although) I’m still going to have a lot to learn.”

Savary, who has a wife and two children, grew up in Derry, New Hampshire, and attended the University of Southern Maine. He started with the Bath police in November 1992, rising through the ranks from officer to corporal, patrol sergeant and detective sergeant, before becoming the department’s fourth-ever lieutenant in 2013.

That title changed about a year ago to deputy chief, and Chief Mike Field said Monday that he is in the process of interviewing internally for Savary’s replacement, a process he hopes to conclude later this month.

“Bob has spent over half his life dedicated to this profession,” Field said. “He had a very successful career working through the ranks from patrol officer to deputy chief. This in itself tells you what kind of person he was. He will be truly missed, but we wish him the best.”

At the time of his promotion to lieutenant, Savary was excited to get back into the department’s patrol division. Change has been a healthy part of his career.

“I’ve been really blessed with having various stages of my career to keep it fresh and new,” he said. He was proud as a detective to “solve a lot of big cases (and) put some bad guys in prison,” he added.

After 25 years with the department Savary was able to collect a pension, so he started to look for the next new experience.

“That’s been the plan all along,” he said, “waiting for the right opportunity. And then this came along, and was just a tremendous opportunity. You’d be a fool to pass it up.”

Highs and lows

Savary said he saw public scrutiny of police grow during his nearly three decades in law enforcement.

“When I first was on patrol, you could pretty much be guaranteed a physical altercation with a drunken person for whatever reason; a barroom fight, a domestic disturbance” each weekend, he said. “… Now, those things don’t occur as often, but at the same time the level of respect (for police) has gone down.”

Face-to-face interactions that involve more respect have given way to public opinions vented on social media, he noted.

But “at the same time, there are a lot of good folks out there that appreciate what law enforcement does,” Savary said. “The pendulum will go back and forth.”

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, public opinion of police was strong, he said. The pendulum then swayed back the other way, and is now about in the middle, he suggested.

“An interesting quote that I heard somewhere along the way, and it’s so true … ‘the better you do your job, the less they think they need you,'” Savary said.

Savary has earned various awards over the years, including recognition for bravery and superior performance in 2005 when police were chasing an armed robber from Waldoboro. During a standoff at the Chandler Drive shopping center the man shot at Savary’s cruiser.

That remains the most harrowing moment of his career.

“There was a time when I would think about that incident every day,” he said. “The further you get away from it, the less you think about it. … If it hadn’t have gone the way that it did, I don’t know if I would have been able to finish my career. If one of our fellow (officers) was hurt, or God forbid, killed. But the bad guy, he ended up being killed, and all the good guys went home.”

Savary said he remains grateful to have survived the encounter, noting that “it could have ended a lot worse, but it didn’t.”

“There have been scenes where you see blood, and people at their worst, and they fight with their spouse, or their family member or their neighbor, and things go badly,” he said. “You see that. But you kind of get desensitized over the years. … You do your job, you kind of put your blinders on and you do what you do.”

Cases like those, or when someone has stolen their parents’ life savings, can shake one’s faith in humanity, Savary said. But again, it’s like that pendulum, with good guys and bad guys, tough days and better ones.

Savary smiled as he recalled an elderly resident who had been aided by an officer in some snow shoveling.

“Since then, every Tuesday, he’d bring in muffins, or cookies or doughnuts, just to say thanks,” Savary said. “You kind of look forward to that, you know.”

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