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North Country

After 40 Years With Pittsburg Police, Chief Lapoint Calls It A Career

Courtesy Union Leader/John Koziol

After 40 years working for the Pittsburg Police Department, Richard Lapoint is calling it a career.

Lapoint has been police chief for the Granite State’s northernmost town for the past 28 years. He’s retiring on Sunday.

He joined Morning Edition host Rick Ganley recently to take a look back at his career in law enforcement in New Hampshire’s North Country.

You began your career as a part-time Pittsburg police officer in 1975. How has the town changed over the past 40 years?

It’s grown considerably with seasonal homes. Recreation has picked up with the ATV and snowmobiling industry. It’s basically become a much busier town than it was when I first started.

People often see Pittsburg as far removed from the rest of the state, but I imagine you deal with a lot of the same issues as cities, such as drug abuse.

Obviously, we do have drugs in the area. Whatever they have down there, they bring up here. We do deal with issues the same as the big cities.

What are some of the issues come with being a town along the Canadian border?

Once in a while we’ll have something happen. A couple weeks ago, we picked up an illegal Guatemalan and turned him over to the border patrol. But border patrol is well staffed now. They do a really good job on the border. Years ago, when there was only a couple of them, we had a major drug-growing operation along the border. But with more manpower, it’s slacked off a lot.  

Where there things you learned along the way in your career that may have changed your approach to law enforcement?

I just feel it requires a lot of dedication on an officer’s part because nowadays they restrict the officers to the amount of time they can work. It’s not like it used to be when you could work until the job was done and not have to worry about the comp time and the overtime. It’s more restrictive now as far as what an officer can do and can’t do.

You spent most of your life in Pittsburg. You went to school there. Why did you decide to make your law enforcement career there?

I had the opportunity when I was working part-time. I enjoyed it. Then I was given the opportunity to go full-time. I love the town. I love working with the people in the town and I really have no desire and never had a desire to go to any other place. This is where I like to live. This is where I had my family grow up. This is the place I chose because of what it is.

What are you going to miss most about the job?

The people that I work with, the people that I met, the people you were called to do certain things for. I’ll just miss basically everything about the job. There’s nothing I won’t miss.

Any plans for retirement?

I’m a deputy sheriff and I’ll be working part-time as a school resource officer for Stewartstown and Pittsburg. But other than that, I’m just going to enjoy life.

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