Orono Police Department (OPD)’s Chief of Police, Josh Ewing, has announced that he is stepping down as Chief of Police to pursue other career opportunities. His last day will be Nov. 5. Ewing has served in this position for eight years and has worked various positions in the department for the last 22 years. Ewing is now going to work for the Hampden Police Department as a patrol officer.
Of course, his resignation means a lot of changes are in store for OPD. Ewing explained that nobody is going to fill his role, but the town will create some new positions to help fill the void in leadership.
“There is now a Deputy Chief of Police, Dan Merrill, who was the Captain. He’s been with the department since 2008 and has been the Captain since 2017. Orono will also have a Public Safety Director to oversee both Police and Fire in the areas of budget, long-term planning and personnel development. The Fire Chief, Geoff Low, will be assigned this position, and I believe this all goes into effect on Nov. 5,” Ewing said.
With Merrill and Low working together, they will fill the position of Chief in an unconventional way. These changes come amidst a nationwide era of critiquing police for racial bias, the use of excessive force and the overfunding of many police departments across the country. These issues are causing higher rates of job turnover in local police departments. According to the Bangor Daily News and their interview with Orono Town Manager, Sophie Wilson, the reorganization of the department may only be temporary. Nobody has decided if this is the best course of action for the long-term.
To Ewing, it is clear that Orono will be in good hands after his departure from the department.
“While I’m hearing that I’ll be missed, I think that the change will be good overall for the department. This creates opportunities for people to step up into leadership roles, albeit a little sooner than they thought. Orono has great police officers working to keep the town safe, they’re dedicated to serving the greater good, and the department is being left in good hands,” Ewing said.
Ewing explained that his motivation to become a patrol officer again stems from wanting to help the community.
“Over the last year and a half or so I’ve realized that I have a much greater desire to serve the public in a more individualized manner, dealing directly with people on day-to-day law enforcement/public service concerns, than I do from the agency leadership role,” Ewing said. “My family has lived in Hampden for the past 18 years, so it seems like the perfect fit for me to finish out my career.”
As Ewing looks to the future, he is reminded about his wonderful experience working for OPD. He feels fortunate to have acquired leadership roles to advance his career. As Nov. 5 comes closer, he has been doing a lot of reflection on his career.
“My experience in Orono has been more than I could have ever expected. I know how fortunate I am to have risen through the ranks and become Chief, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” Ewing shared.