Bath Police Chief Mike Field will retire next month after 15 years as chief. His last day is Thursday, June 24. Kathleen O’Brien / The Times Record

Bath Police Chief Mike Field, known for his community-focused approach to policing, announced he will retire next month after 33 years with the department.

Field, 56, spent much of his childhood in Bath after his family moved there when he was 9. He said going into law enforcement was a natural choice because “it’s in my blood and “I wanted to do something that made a difference.”

He said he wanted to continue the legacy of serving the community his father began as Bath’s animal control officer for nearly 20 years.

After college he “started applying everywhere” and was offered a position as a patrol officer in 1988. He said he considers taking the job in his hometown “the best move I ever made because serving the town I grew up in and raising my kids here has been an amazing ride.”

After joining the department, he advanced through the ranks and was eventually named lieutenant in 2005. The next year, he was named chief, an achievement he said he’s most proud of.

Throughout his 33 years in the department, Field said much about the career has changed, “but for the better.” Those changes are most noticeable in the technology officers have at their fingertips, resources put in place for police officers who may be struggling after responding to traumatic events, and the robust training programs each officer must complete.

“On my first day they told me to put a gun belt on and drive around but don’t stop anybody and don’t do anything,” he said. “Today, we have an 18-week police academy and we put officers through several hundred hours of training here.”

As chief, Field has strived to better his department and the community by learning from his hardest days — the rare times he has been called to respond to someone who chose to end their own life.

“I’ve seen a few suicides, one of which was a young teenager,” said Field. “Those things stick with you and I still think about it today and what I could’ve done to prevent that. When I first started, you were supposed to deal with those things on your own and internalize it. Today, when we have a crisis, we have plans in place to make sure officers are ok.”

Field, who also served as chairman of the United Way of Mid Coast Maine, spent his career adding and reinforcing community resources for anyone struggling with mental health, domestic violence, or substance use disorder. Most recently, the Bath police department joined a national program that supplies police officers with fentanyl test strips, a tool officers and health officials believe could reduce accidental drug overdoses.

He said addressing the needs of a community is a keystone of his “community policing philosophy,” and contributes to the positive relationship Bath has with its police department.

“I look at Bath as a community, it’s not just a place,” said Field. “We’re a community-oriented department. I hope they keep the strong, community-oriented policing philosophy that we have and remain part of the community.”

Deputy Chief Andrew Booth said Field’s close community ties are one of the things he most admires about the chief, who he has worked alongside since 2002. In 2019, Field selected Booth to become his deputy chief.

“He is respected by all, and is an easygoing chief whose quiet leadership and respect for his employees garners loyalty and respect by those employees,” Booth said. “He really devoted himself to making the department, and the city of Bath, a better place.”

Booth said Field’s humble, caring nature is best exemplified by “the fact that he regularly checked in on my wife and kids when I was deployed overseas with the Army National Guard in 2010. My wife really appreciated that regular check-in knowing that she had Chief Field and the rest of the department to help her while I was gone.”

Field said he plans to work for a few more years, but said it’s “the right time” to step away from the department.

“I’ve always thought about the transition and wanted to make sure we’re in a good spot before I leave,” he said. “I want to make sure everyone’s ready for the next step, and they are. It was a tough decision because I love the men and women here. There’s my family just as much as my own family so that separation is going to be tough and emotional.”

He admitted he isn’t sure what’s next for him, he’s certain he’ll remain connected to the community and hopes he’ll be able to get “just a taste” of law enforcement in his next job.

“I hate to see him go but support his decision to retire,” said Booth. “He can retire knowing that he’s leaving the Department in great shape. I really appreciate his mentorship and trust he’s placed in me. I know that, as a department, we’ll continue his community policing legacy and follow in his leadership style.”

Field’s last day as chief is June 24.


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