BRIDGTON — Police Chief Richard Stillman is moving on to his next post after five years with the department.

Stillman has been hired as chief of the Moultonborough, New Hampshire, Police Department. His last day on the job in Bridgton was Tuesday.

“I think he’s been what I call a really great community police chief. He has at least once a week walked the street, our downtown, meeting with people, just greeting people, just being a strong presence,” Town Manager Bob Peabody said.

Stillman was involved in several community-focused initiatives, including serving on the board for the Lakes Region Substance Awareness Coalition. He has been an advocate for treatment rather than incarceration for those with substance use disorders who have been charged with minor drug crimes.

“Chief Stillman is going to be missed here, he was a phenomenal mentor for all of us,” said Sgt. Timothy “TJ” Reesem, who will serve as interim chief until a permanent chief is named.

“Chief Stillman brought years’ worth of experience to the department and was able to show me, as well as all of us, new ways of policing … (He) taught me that compassion, empathy and, above all, integrity are some of the top traits of being such an effective leader and police officer.”

When residents gathered last month in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, Stillman joined demonstrators in taking a knee in solidarity.

Speaking at the protest, Stillman said that he was “very disturbed” by the death of George Floyd and, although the Bridgton department participates in training to combat implicit bias, he believes there is still much to be done to combat racism within police departments across the country.

“There’s a lot of obstacles in the way and part of that is just the racism that is the undercurrent of our country,” Stillman said. “You got to remember that we draw our police officers from society … so we’re pulling that into our own ranks.”

An internal search to replace Stillman is underway, Peabody said. He decided not to seek candidates from elsewhere because Stillman is leaving behind a strong department, he said.

The position is appointed by the town manager and confirmed by the Selectboard.

Stillman could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Before coming to Bridgton, Stillman was the police chief in Walpole, Massachusetts.

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