NEWPORT CITY – After more than three decades of serving the city, Police Chief J. Paul Duquette, 56, will hang up his gun belt one last time.
Duquette confirmed late yesterday he will retire on Aug. 1, 2012. He has already given the city council suggestions on how to proceed in finding his replacement.
Duquette is willing to train his replacement. “I hate to throw this in somebody’s lap without them doing some shadowing,” he said. Duquette would like to see a local person assume the position. “That’s how I ended up with the job 15 years ago.”
Duquette replaced David Winslow. Before hiring Duquette, the council hired someone from Connecticut. However that hire was short-lived.
“When they found out he had been convicted of domestic assault and couldn't carry a gun, it kind of changed everyone’s opinion,” Duquette said.
Prior to becoming a police officer, Duquette worked at the Newport Healthcare Center. Duquette studied electronics at Vermont Technical College. However, back the,n most national companies had a hiring freeze.
Duquette’s first assignment as a police officer was a foot beat from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Two years later, he became a junior police officer, which gave him more time in the cruiser.
December 1976 remains in Duquette’s mind very well. “I got shot at for the first time,” he said. “We got a call from someone who said her estranged husband was coming to take the kids and he didn’t care if someone got in the way. We got in the way.”
Police blocked the road and the suspect didn’t get the kids. Police ended up pursuing the person to City Farm Road, where he jumped out of the car and fired a rifle shot. Duquette couldn’t return fire because there was a house right behind the suspect. The suspect then jumped back into the car and finally crashed at the intersection of the Alderbrook Road and Route 14 in Coventry.
In 1988, Duquette was promoted to sergeant. At the same time, the state was forming the Vermont Drug Task Force. He agreed to join the task force and ended up working all over the state with the exception of the Newport area. Duquette’s first case was posing as a hit man.
“I was offering my services to a guy who wanted the informant in his drug case killed,” said Duquette.
Another case was in Barre. Duquette had to meet with someone who was paranoid and patted Duquette down in search of a wire. The suspect didn’t find the wire but did find Duquette’s gun. After some fast thinking, Duquette appeased the person and made his buy.
In a third case, police arrested someone in the Holland area who had ties to a large barge in the St. Lawrence Seaway that had 55 tons of hash.
In 1994, Duquette returned to the police department as a detective. He worked on cases like burglaries, rapes, missing persons, child molestation cases, drug cases and murders.
Duquette became chief in May of 1997.
Police work has changed quite bit over Duquette’s time. Today there is more technology and officers have a different work ethic. There are also different types of self-defensive equipment.
Duquette is retiring because he maxed out on his retirement and he is unhappy with the direction of the criminal justice system. He said dealing with the public is often times unpleasant, especially for police officers.
“You’re dealing with people who are at their worst or suffered something traumatic to them,” he said. “It’s stressful.”
Duquette has not decided what he will do after retirement but he has received several job offers in the law enforcement field.
“It’s time for something different,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for 35 years and I think I’ve done everything I can here. It’s time to kick back, relax for a little while and try something different.”