Richard Brown arrived in Suffield in 1996, beginning his long and successful career as a police officer here. Why Suffield? Because he grew up in East Granby, tried big city living in Boston and found that he preferred small town life. Suffield became his “home away from home,” so to speak, until his retirement a few weeks ago. In the meantime, he held every position on the force, and was promoted to Chief five years ago – a route not uncommon among law enforcement professionals.
There have been many changes in Suffield since Brown arrived, of course. The town has grown in population and the job has grown in complexity. In comparison to many other towns in Connecticut, Suffield is fairly quiet and law-abiding, but that doesn’t mean there is no stress on the job.
In his five years at the top of the career ladder, Chief Brown spent almost half of it during the COVID pandemic. The biggest issue, he reports, is not what the police have to do on a daily basis, but what they might have to do in a crisis. And yes, there are crises. No town is immune. But the COVID crisis has produced a dramatic increase in issues of mental health with which our police have been dealing: alcohol, drugs, domestic violence, to name a few. All crises cause stress to those who must respond quickly and effectively to a wide range of catastrophic events.
Because Suffield has a relatively small police force, the Chief must be available to help the other members of the force at any time; he is not a desk man, despite the increase in administrative detail that is required. Recent changes in policy and procedure, in the wake of George Floyd’s death, have resulted in new state requirements, such as national accreditation; our force is ahead of the curve in responding to all of these.
What is Chief Brown proudest of as he looks forward to new activities? The outstanding individuals who worked under his leadership, he says. Our police force is talented and committed; they make the chief’s job much easier. Brown has also appreciated the support he has felt from the community; it has been a good place to work. As for the future, he praises our new Chief, whom he describes as extremely talented–urging townspeople to get to know him when they can, and to listen to what he has to say.
As for his own future plans, Brown is biding his time and planning his next step. The Observer thanks him for his many years of devoted service to Suffield, both as part of the force for many years and as chief for the last five, realizing what important positions he has held and their value to all of us. We wish him well and know he will continue to have success in whatever new sphere he chooses to enter.