BROOKFIELD, Conn. -- After 16 years of leading the Brookfield Police Department, Chief Robin Montgomery said the time has come for him to step down.
“I’ve been in law enforcement since 1971,” said Montgomery, whose last day on the job will be Wednesday. He will be replaced by Maj. James Purcell.
“I’ve been carrying a gun since 1968,” said Montgomery, including his three years he served in the Marine Corps in the Vietnam War, where he earned the Navy Cross, the nation’s highest award for valor in combat.
One of his accomplishments as chief was in making the department more accessible to the community, said Montgomery, a Brookfield resident.
"There is a misimpression that because someone is a police officer, he or she has an aura that is not communicative," he said.
“Over the years, we have succeeded in making the department more user-friendly to the public,” he said.
Montgomery joined the Brookfield Police Department in 2000. He came from a job at the FBI as special agent in charge of the Critical Incident Response Group.
He also praised the work of Brookfield Cares , a town organization that he said has evolved substantially in his time as chief.
Brookfield Cares is a nonprofit substance abuse coalition that promotes awareness of depression, suicide and other public health concerns.
“We work throughout the entire Brookfield school system and within the community. We have turned this into a townwide effort. Our town allocates $3,000 toward it,” he said,
Montgomery was also responsible for hiring two school resource officers — one in the high school and one in the middle school — as a result of the Sandy Hook tragedy in neighboring Newtown.
He said has very happy to have worked in Brookfield for so long and feels the town has a lot to offer. “In Brookfield, people talk to one another and have the good of the town in mind when it comes to many issues.
“They have a willingness to try something that hasn’t been tried before and to listen to others' opinions,” Montgomery said.
He credits his success as chief partially to his good listening skills.
“The willingness to listen, that’s the key,” Montgomery said, adding that others in the department have felt comfortable coming to him with their concerns over the years.
Montgomery has made it his mission to let the Brookfield community know that the police department is helping to not only keep them safe but also to solve problems and work with them on any issues they may have.
Managing a police department is similar to managing other types of businesses, he said.
“If you set out your goals and explain the issues involved and what can happen if they choose not to do what you ask them to do, there is a logical consequence. You need to be consistent and show no favoritism," he said.
What will he miss the most? The people and the camaraderie of working with them, Montgomery said.
In the new chapter of his life, he is looking forward to spending more time with his four grandchildren and traveling with his wife, Marianne Gaffey.