Hampden’s longest-serving officer retires after 36 years on the force
Sgt. Stewart served 13 years as Hampden Academy’s School Resource Officer.
HAMPDEN, Maine (WABI) - The longest serving police officer in Hampden said goodbye Thursday after more than three decades of service.
When he’s not at the Hampden Public Safety Building, you can find Sergeant Dan Stewart roaming the halls of Hampden Academy, helping kids and staff stay safe.
On Thursday, he entered the school for the last time, in that role.
Students held a pep rally and honored him with a plaque, thanking him for his years of service.
“I’m not a big person for shows or this and that, and I was just hoping I was going to fade into the sunset, but this is really nice,” Stewart said.
Stewart began his police career in Ashland as the department’s first full-time officer in 1984.
In 1987, he found his permanent home with the Hampden Police Department, getting promoted to sergeant just two years later.
He’s a recognizable face in town, but certainly within these school walls.
“He’s just so close with all the kids,” said Hampden Academy senior, Isabella McLaughlin. He is not Officer Stewart, he is just “Stewie.”
“I’m here to make sure things are safe,” Stewart said. “I do the education piece. If kids want to sit down and talk, you know, if they’re having problems at home. That is the kind of stuff the SROs do. I think, at least from what I got from this group, I think I’ve succeeded.”
“Dan has really established a high bar to meet for being an SRO in the school,” said Vice Principal of Hampden Academy, Ryan Crane.
“People want to feel that their kids are safe and having somebody that is readily accessible in the building. If something goes wrong, it is a much better feeling than thinking that you live in a community where the response may be 10, 15, 20 minutes away,” said Stewart.
After all this time, he says it’s tough to say goodbye, but he wants the kids to know, he’ll always be there for them.
“It’s always something different in this type of a job. It’s not the standard making speeding stops and that type of thing. It’s a lot of different things rolled up here, and it’s going to be really weird not doing it anymore,” he said.
“We all appreciate him more than we can ever say,” McLaughlin said. “I’m excited that I’ll still get to see him around because he still comes to soccer games, so I’m excited that he’s always going to be part of the community.”
Sergeant Stewart’s day of recognition didn’t end there.
After a ceremony at the town council chambers, his fellow public safety members escorted him home where another surprise awaited - a special sendoff over radio.
“Public safety is a family. It really feels nice to know that you’ve got brothers and sisters out there that are concerned for you, looking out for you, and now wishing me to be able to go on and enjoy my retirement.
“I have seen those videos on YouTube, and until you are on the receiving end, you just don’t realize it.”
Sergeant Stewart says he’ll enjoy retirement with family, and maybe a trip down to Florida where it’s warmer.
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