FREEPORT — Acting Police Chief Susan Nourse on Wednesday will become the first woman sworn in as permanent chief of police.
The Town Council approved Nourse’s appointment Tuesday night, with an annual salary of $81,500. Councilors voted 6-0, with Councilor Lee Arris abstaining.
A swearing-in ceremony was scheduled for noon Wednesday at Town Hall.
Town Manager Peter Joseph said June 2 in a letter to the Town Council that he was nominating Nourse, the department’s lieutenant, for the police chief position.
Former Chief Jerry Schofield retired in March after almost 40 years with the department. Nourse, 55, has been serving as the interim chief.
“I’m certainly honored to be chosen as Freeport’s police chief and I look forward to working with the strong team at the Freeport Police Department to continue serving the community,” she said in an interview Tuesday afternoon.
Nourse, who has been with the department as long as she’s been a Freeport resident – 31 years – was one of two final candidates for the position, along with Brunswick Police Cmdr. Marc Hagan. According to Joseph, there were 20 candidates for the position and five were interviewed.
“After a thorough recruitment and interview process, as well as a large amount of feedback from various community members and residents, I am confident that Susan has the required knowledge, skills, and abilities, as well as the knowledge of, and support from, the community to progress in her career and succeed in the position of Chief of Police,” Joseph said in his letter.
Joseph was assisted in the search process by Town Manager’s Assistant/Personnel Director Judy Hawkey, a representative from the police union, and three representatives from the Maine Chiefs of Police Association.
In his letter to the council, Joseph said he also received input from approximately 200 residents, most of whom suggested Nourse be selected for the position.
Nourse first joined the Freeport Police Department in 1984 as a patrol officer. In 1988 she was promoted to sergeant and became lieutenant in 2004.
“It’s been an interesting journey because I’ve been able to do all facets of the job here in Freeport,” she said.
She has a master’s degree in adult education from the University of Southern Maine, and in 2006 graduated from the FBI National Academy.
“I’ve really kept education as my base,” Nourse said. “Educating people about how to keep their community safe is important. It’s the pinnacle of my career.”
During her time with the department, Nourse implemented the D.A.R.E. program in Freeport schools in 1989, helped create a program to help juveniles make better decisions, and created the police canine program in 2013.
Nourse said the transition will be “seamless.” She said she’s looking forward to the new aspects of the job, such as creating the department’s budget and applying for grants, and making decisions about the future of the department.
Joseph said Nourse’s history with the department and her connection to the town will make her a great chief.
“While there were many strong candidates for the position, I feel confident that Susan Nourse is the best choice for the Town of Freeport and will lead the Police Department well into the future,” he said.