A trio of Twin Cities public safety personnel recently retired, leaving behind legacies of humbly serving for decades in their respective communities.
Fitchburg firefighter Randall Doughty and Deputy Chief Gregg Normandin both worked their final shifts last month. Doughty has been a member of the department since July 1989 and the first driver of Engine 4 Group 2 for many years.
“Today Firefighter Randall Doughty celebrated his last shift on duty,” read a Jan. 13 Fitchburg Fire Department Facebook post. “After 34 years of commitment and exemplary service to our department and City, we wish FF Doughty a happy and healthy retirement. Congratulations FF Doughty!”
Two days prior a post was made in honor of Normandin, who began his career at FFD on March 4, 1986, and rose to the rank of deputy chief “with many achievements under his belt.”
“He will be missed greatly by our department for his skill, knowledge, and leadership,” the post stated. “He has always been a great wealth of knowledge for our department. With his retirement, we lose a brother, and a mentor, with great knowledge and skill in our field. We wish him a very well-deserved retirement and strive to have the dedication to serve our community and the job, as he has. Deputy Normandin, we wish you the happiest retirement and thank you for your knowledge and contributions to our department and community!”
Fitchburg Fire Chief Dante Suarez said the lifelong city resident “was one of our most dedicated and experienced firefighters.”
“His knowledge, expertise and leadership will not be easily replaced and will definitely be missed,” Suarez shared.
Normandin said he “followed in the footsteps” of his father and two uncles, who were also city firefighters. At the time of his hiring the department did not send new firefighters to the state fire academy but instead they did “in-house training with experienced officers, then learned more as we progressed through our careers.”
He looks back on his career with great pride. Normandin rose to the rank of lieutenant after nine years in, captain another nine years after that, and then deputy chief 12 years later. Normandin said his “two most proud moments” during his time at FFD were “rescuing baby Joe from a fire in 1998 and my Dad pinning my deputy chief’s badge on me in 2016.”
“I had a very fulfilling career and enjoyed going to work each shift,” he relayed. “I have no regrets and I feel that I have left the Department better than I found it. The thing that I will miss most is the comradery of the people I worked with. We were a very tight shift and we all had similar values when it came to the job.”
Normandin said he has plans to travel in retirement and will continue to work part time at the Massachusetts Fire Academy, where he has worked for the past 23 years.
Det. Richard Shea of the Leominster Police Department also won’t be completely resting on his laurels in retirement. The 27-year police department veteran said he plans to help out in the traffic division and Police Chief Aaron Kennedy said they are going to utilize Shea’s detective expertise to do background investigations on new hires.
“We are hoping to keep him around as a vendor for the department,” Kennedy said. “We are short on manpower; he would be able to help us greatly.”
LPD also gave a shout out to its newest retiree on social media with a post on Jan. 12 recognizing Shea’s “final call” and wishing him “health, happiness and prosperity” in his retirement.
“Thank you for all your years of honorable service. Hoorah,” the post about the Marine veteran stated.
Kennedy said they gathered at the police station that day and presented Shea with his retirement badge, did his “last call on the radio and we got to say farewell.”
Speaking with Shea earlier this week he commented that it is “bittersweet” retiring from a job he spent so much of his life dedicated to — although he was thoroughly enjoying “sitting in my living room sipping tea by the fire.”
He moved to Leominster from Hudson in 1987 with his wife, and they have two grown children together he is very proud of.
“They contain the values they were raised with,” he said of his offspring.
Shea attended police academy at Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner in the mid-1990s, part of an “experimental” program that integrated police recruits “into the college atmosphere.” He joined the force in Leominster right after graduation in 1996 and was appointed by longtime Mayor Dean Mazzarella.
“It was highly competitive at that time to receive an appointment,” Shea recalled. “It was huge.”
He said he has been “fully supported” by friends and family over his career, which he called “a task of endeavor.”
“It’s a daily event, kind of like Groundhog Day,” Shea said of the day-to-day life of a police officer. “We do and see things most people will never see. It has been a great career and I’ve had the opportunity to work with some fantastic, brave men and women.”
He said while his only regret is that he didn’t become a police officer earlier in his life and joked that “it is for people younger than me,” coming on in his 30s enabled him to bring “life experience” with him.
Shea wanted to “give a shoutout to dispatchers,” who he feels are an often overlooked but essential part of public safety.
“They are saving lives and delivering babies over the phone,” he noted.
Shea said it is “very humbling” to talk about his decades of service and that while it’s “hard to sum up” his decades long career, he “always likes to tell people that being a cop is very rare job.”
“You are ejected into total strangers’ lives and charged with solving their problems in a short period of time,” he shared of it’s like to be a police officer. “You treat people how you would treat yourself, your wife, your husband, your children, your parents, how you would want them to be treated.”
When it comes to how policing has evolved over the last two and a half decades, Shea articulated that he feels that “change is good.”
“We live in an environment that is forever changing. I see it very different now than when I came on in the 1990s. If it benefits the people you are serving in the community that is a good thing, because obviously that’s what we are there for.”
He offered some wise advice to “all the new people,” police officers that are up and coming and at the precipice of beginning their careers, “As you were trained, so shall you perform.”
“Resort back to training and you will do fine that out there,” he said of going back to the basics.
“Adapt and overcome. Being a cop is what you make of it and if you go in there with a clean mind and do the best of your abilities every day, you will do good.”
Kennedy called Shea “an asset for the department” and said “he has performed his job tremendously from start to finish.”
“As a detective he really brought his professionalism to the victims, even the serious crimes, and really put his best foot forward to the department,” Kennedy said.
The police chief went on to say that as a former Marine, Shea “had a work ethic that came together as a police officer” and that “he has become a friend.”
“We are going to miss him, it’s going to be a hard slot to fill.”
Shea said he’s going to take some time off this winter and “get back to doing some hunting and fishing” and spend time with his two granddaughters. When he’s ready, he is looking forward to helping out at the department but knows it won’t be the same as being there full time.
“LPD is a fine place to work,” he declared. “A great group of men and women and they see the community and they complete the mission. I will miss them.”