Longtime Topsham lieutenant gets nod as police chief

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TOPSHAM — Christopher Lewis, a Police Department lieutenant for nearly 10 years, will become police chief on Monday, July 23.

Lewis has served as interim chief since Timothy Young stepped down from the position in May.

Town Manager Cornell Knight, who announced Lewis’s promotion at the July 19 Board of Selectmen meeting, said Lewis was the one person considered for the job.

“His background, his qualifications, the work he’s done in the department as patrol (officer), resource officer, lieutenant, and his time as interim chief all factored into the decision,” Knight said. He also expressed confidence in Lewis’s ability to lead the department.

Lewis, whose annual salary will be $70,000, called it “a great honor” on Friday to have been named chief. “It’s an exciting challenge for the next step in my career, and I’m very appreciative that the town manager has the confidence that I can lead the department and work closely with him in the years to come.”

The 40-year-old Augusta resident, who is married and has three children, moved to Maine from Florida in 1999. He earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology at Florida State University, and was a deputy with the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office in south central Florida from 1994-1999.

Lewis called the move from Florida to Maine “a family decision,” noting that his wife, Laura, is from Augusta. They met in college and were married in Maine.

He had two significantly different career options at the time: pursue a job with the Miami Beach Police Department, or opt for a much quieter life in Topsham.

“The decision was made that we wanted to raise our children in Maine and head north instead of south.” Lewis said. “It was quite the life change, but I’m definitely happy and excited that we did make the move, and I enjoy living and working in Maine.

“All of my friends down in Miami still think that I’ve lost my mind because it snows up here,” he added with a laugh, “but other than that, we’re good.”

Lewis joined the Topsham department as a patrol officer, then became school resource officer at Mt. Ararat Middle School, and served as the department’s DARE officer. He was promoted to lieutenant in 2003.

One of Lewis’s first responsibilities as chief will be to fill an open patrol officer position in the department. It has also not been decided who will replace him as lieutenant.

Lewis said he also hopes to increase the department’s efficiency.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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Christopher Lewis.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.