OSSIPEE - Surrounded by friends, colleagues, good food and cheer, retiring Police Chief Donald Grow celebrated his first day of retirement during a luncheon at Town Hall where he was seated next to his successor. Lt. James "Jimmy" Eldridge was officially sworn in as police chief during a ceremony at the police station held later in the afternoon.
The new chief has served as second in command at the Ossipee Police Department since Grow was named police chief in 2008, after former police chief and newly elected selectman Richard Morgan, retired from the post.
In a post lunch interview, Eldridge said he has wanted to be a police officer since he was in high school. Upon graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Army where he served as a military police officer from 1986 to 1989. He then joined the Madison Police Department and came on board as a full time Ossipee police officer in 1990. During his police career, Eldridge served as the K-9 Unit officer (14 years), as the department's firearms instructor (17 years) and as the vice commander of the Carroll County Drug Task Force.
His first tasks will be to hire a new police officer to fill a vacancy and to name a new second in command for the department.
Over the years Eldridge has seen an increase in illegal drug activity and listed drugs as a crime-fighting priority. He said the county's Drug Task Force, which had been inactive for some time, was restarting again under newly elected County Sheriff Dominic Richardi.
Grow left his uniform at home and dressed in retirement casual attire for the luncheon.
He said he'd likely spend time with his wife, Donna, with whom he'll celebrate 40 years of marriage this year, and their grown children and grandchildren. Grow became a police officer in 1985 and over the years worked with the Ossipee, Tuftonboro, County Sheriff's Department, Madison and with Effingham, where he also served as chief.
He served as chief in Ossipee since 2008. Over the years he particularly enjoyed working with kids in the D.A.R.E. program, and with his fellow officers and second-in-command, he said.
"I was blessed to have a great crew - my job couldn't have been easier. You can't do the job by yourself," Grow said.