Bath Town Clerk Darci Wheeler swore in Deputy Chief Andrew Booth as the city’s new police chief on Thursday, June 24, in front of the police station. Kathleen O’Brien / The Times Record

Friday marks former Deputy Police Chief Andrew Booth’s first day as Bath’s police chief after he was sworn Thursday during a ceremony honoring former Chief Michael Field.

Booth said he doesn’t plan to “drastically change” much about the department’s core values, practices and policies that Field helped shape

“It’s going to be the same Bath PD that I’ve known for 20 years,” said Booth. “This is a great department and city to work for. I’m looking forward to the honor and challenge of being the chief.”

Deputy Chief Andrew Booth has been chosen as the next Chief, following Mike Field’s retirement. Courtesy photo / City of Bath.

Booth was hired in 2002, serving in a number of roles including patrol officer, patrol corporal, drug detective and detective sergeant. He was promoted to deputy chief in 2019. He also served as Lieutenant Colonel with the Vermont Army National Guard, which he joined in 1998, and has two year-long deployments to Afghanistan under his belt.

Booth said traffic safety are among the most pressing issues facing the city. Traffic problems increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, Booth said, because police reduced traffic enforcement to limit the amount of close contacts officers had with the public.

“We’re seeing a lot of accidents and poor driving decisions like people on their cell phones or people who haven’t registered or inspected their vehicle because of the pandemic, but it has been six months now and their cars shouldn’t be on the road,” said Booth. “We’ve stepped up the traffic enforcement to try to catch up on that to get it to a level where pedestrians and motorists are safe.”


Former Bath Police Chief Mike Field put the badge identifying Andrew Booth as the city’s new chief on Thursday, June 24. Booth will start his first day as chief the following day. Kathleen O’Brien / The Times Record

According to the Maine Department of Transportation, Bath saw 103 collisions in 2020, none fatal. Of those, four were caused by speeding and 11 involved distracted driving.

The previous year, Bath saw 123 crashes, 10 of which involved speeding and eight caused by distracted driving. Again, none were fatal.

Although Bath police are now trying to increase traffic enforcement, they’re working against the summer tourist season when visitors typically surge to the picturesque city, and often passing through to tourist destinations such as Phippsburg’s Popham Beach.

Additionally, Booth said traffic and parking violations are long-standing issues in Bath’s South End where Bath Iron Works — employing roughly 7,300 —  is situated.

“BIW is hiring more people too, so there are more workers walking back and forth to work, so that’s something we’re trying to closely monitor,” said Booth.

In the meantime, the department is struggling to hire two officers as well as a parking enforcement officer to assist with traffic enforcement. Booth said much of the parking enforcement officer’s day centers around patrolling the South End to keep traffic and parking induced by BIW under control.


“Being able to have an adequate number of law enforcement officers moving forward is going to be hugely important for the city, just for general public safety,” he said. “Trying to do the same or more with less is going to be a significant challenge.”

In 2019, Bath, in partnership with the MaineDOT and BIW, conducted a traffic study find solutions to two major issues — the limited amount of parking for shipyard employees and residents in the South End, and the traffic issues that result from the afternoon shift change at the shipyard, when hundreds of employees depart the south end in a mass exodus.

The $75,000 study was sparked by the death of a BIW worker who was struck by a car on Washington Street while walking to work in 2016. The tragedy highlighted the dire need for increased safety in the South End, City Manager Peter Owen told The Times Record.

Despite the challenges ahead, Booth said he’s confident he can continue the community-centered policing philosophy Field worked to build over his 33-year career. He said he plans to keep officers closely involved in the community by restarting and maintaining community programs like the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program and Coffee with a Cop, which allows officers to speak with local residents.

“For the last 20 or 25 years, we’ve been a community policing-modeled department,” said Booth. “When we get out and talk to the public, not as a police-suspect or police-victim scenario, but as community members. It’s like talking to your neighbor who happens to be a police officer, because we’re members of the community too. By breaking those barriers and showing the community that we’re just like everyone else, it makes cooperation and communication that much better. It gets rid of that us against them mentality.”

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