Local News

1/30/2013

Officer kept community focused

By MICHAEL HALL The Brunswick News

There were two constants during Lt. Sam Strickland's 40-year career with the Brunswick Police Department.

One: Strickland always expected his officers to work hard and do their jobs to the best of their ability. Two: Strickland could be counted on to have a tobacco pipe hanging from his lips.

On Strickland's final day with the police department Tuesday, officers who worked under him and alongside him spoke of their memories of the retiring lieutenant.

Chief Tobe Green remembers getting assigned shortly after he joined the force in the 1980s to the shift Strickland was supervising.

Green said he bemoaned the assignment because Strickland was known for running a very tight ship. He soon discovered that hard work was all Strickland wanted.

"When you did your work well, you had very little trouble with Sam," Green said during a gathering in honor of Strickland at the Lissner House, 1319 Union St., in Brunswick.

It was Strickland's expectations that taught many younger officers like himself what it meant to be a quality policeman, Green said.

Capt. Michael Melton was one of them.

"I was 2 years old in 1972, when he started," Melton said.

By the time Melton was a teenager, he was paying attention to Strickland, who he saw often around town interacting with the public.

"You were a big influence on me wanting to become an officer," Melton told Strickland.

Capt. Kevin Jones said Strickland's loyalty to the city and to the force set a good example for the younger officers.

"When I first started, I always looked to the officers who had been here a while," Jones said.

Strickland was one he could always count on for proper guidance, he said.

Strickland said he enjoyed his 40 years as an officer but is now looking forward to catching up on some missed time fishing and growing what he described as "some half decent tomatoes."

While the crimes committed today are still largely the same as they were when he started, Strickland said the concept of policing has shifted to a more community focused approach.

That suited Strickland just fine.

He believes in treating people the way he would want to be treated.

"If you don't do that, you get nowhere," Strickland said.

As an officer, Strickland asked his officers to work just as hard as he did.

"The biggest thing is common sense," Strickland said. "Do your job and you wouldn't have a problem from me."

Looking back, he is proud of the time he spent as a Brunswick police officer.

"I just enjoyed the last 40 years," Strickland said.

He will enjoy fishing and spending time with his family just as much, he added.

*Reporter Michael Hall writes about public safety, environment and other local topics. You can contact him at mhall@thebrunswicknews.com, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 320.