Steve Hamilton worked for the Falmouth Police Department for 40 years before retiring earlier this month. Courtesy / Lt. Frank Soule

FALMOUTH — Steve Hamilton retired from the Falmouth Police Department last week after more than 40 years, the longest continuous service in the department’s history.

Hamilton joined Falmouth Police Department in 1980, after working briefly at Cumberland PD and Rockland PD starting in 1977. A career in public safety was something he knew he wanted to pursue for a long time.

I made up my mind at probably 13 or 14 that that’s what I wanted to do,” Hamilton said. “My parents knew some Portland police officers when I was a kid and I met them and it really took hold. 

Over the decades, Hamilton experienced monumental changes in his field, especially technological advances. According to the National Criminal Justice Reference Sheet, mobile data terminals in the form of notebook computers were invented in 1988 and become widespread throughout the early 1990s.

We went from having to run license plates and people through the Bureau of Motor Vehicles via the dispatchers at the station to being able to do that on our own from the cruiser,” said Hamilton. “That was probably one of the best changes because it freed up the dispatchers for the multitude of other things they had to do.”

When asked what the most challenging part of the job was, Hamilton said it was dealing with people struggling with mental health issues.

When I came to Falmouth in 1980 I worked with two guys who were very good at that,” Hamilton recalled. “They knew how to talk to people and calm them down and I tried to emulate them because that was the way I felt it should be done. You get more accomplished with honey than you do with vinegar.” 

Hamilton noted that training to address interactions with those with mental health issues has come to the forefront in the last 10 years, and Falmouth PD has utilized online training during the pandemic.

Hamilton declined to comment when asked how the position has changed in light of recent events such as the Black Lives Matter movement. 

When asked about his favorite part of the job, he said it was the relationships he built with members of the community.

“There was a lot of people that if I was not at work due to an injury or vacation people would ask the other guys where I was,” Hamilton said. “There are so many wonderful people in that town.”

Lt. Frank Soule worked with Hamilton for close to 28 years and said he looked up to Hamilton when he first started working at the department, characterizing him as fair and compassionate.

Soule said typically the department would have a retirement event where they would present Hamilton’s retirement credentials, but due to COVID-19 they are unable to. Instead, before Hamilton’s last shift on Jan. 6, Soule, the other lieutenant, the chief and a few others came to the station to have pizza and share some old stories. 

“Community knowledge is a huge part of the job and you only get that when you spend the time that he spent out here,” said Soule. “There aren’t many people in town that don’t know himAll the training in the world is certainly beneficial, gets us to where we need to be, but there’s nothing you can trade for experience.” 

Comments are not available on this story.