MEXICO — Interim police Chief Roy Hodsdon was officially sworn in as chief Friday at the Police Department, and outgoing chief James Theriault was recognized for his 20 years in that job.

With his wife of 43 years seated several feet away and officers from the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office and Mexico Police Explorers watching, Theriault congratulated Hodsdon on being selected as chief.

Theriault pinned the chief’s badge on Hodsdon’s uniform.

“Before I do this,” Theriault said, turning to those watching, “I want to say that this is truly an honor. I’ve been tutoring Roy for the last six years or so, and I want to congratulate him. The town made a fine choice.”

Theriault and Hodsdon shook hands as people applauded.

Oxford County Sheriff Wayne Gallant told Theriault, “If, by chance, Roy makes any mistakes, he can say, ‘It was that damn Jim Theriault that tutored me!’”

Gallant presented Theriault a certificate of recognition, lauding him for his “dedicated commitment to the citizens of Mexico as their chief law enforcement officer for the past 20 years, and for the 40 years of dedicated and professional police-work in the county of Oxford.”

“Congratulations on your day of retirement,” Gallant said. “Job well done.”

Town Manager John Madigan said, “When I moved to the town in 1985, Jim’s wife, Mary, knocked on our front door the first week we were there. She quickly became friends with my wife, and I got to know Jim. I’ve been his friend for the last 28 years and I’ve appreciated that friendship. I look forward to seeing him around town.”

Madigan told Hodsdon, “When you go to your first budget meeting, and one of the members says, ‘Why did you put this money here,’ don’t be like Jim and say, ‘Just to give you something to cut.’”

Theriault, Madigan and the rest of the room burst into laughter as Madigan shook Theriault’s hand and congratulated him on his retirement.

Hodsdon provided a brief overview of Theriault’s career, from when he was first hired as a reserve officer in Rumford in 1972, to the day he was appointed the Mexico chief of police in 1993.

“Over the years, he’s dealt with a lot of diversity and hardship, but with his determination and help from his family, he kept the Police Department running, sometimes with a shoestring budget and a skeleton crew,” Hodsdon said, reading from a prepared statement.

“The chief hired me in 1997, and I found, by watching him, that being a police officer is more than stopping cars and arresting bad guys. He showed me how to treat people with respect, and by doing so, I began to earn the respect of the people I swore to protect and serve,” Hodsdon said.

“Thanks for believing in me, and allowing me to expand my knowledge and skills so I can lead the Mexico Police Department upon your retirement,” Hodsdon said. “I’m honored to be able to call you my chief, my mentor and my friend.”

After his friends and co-workers had finished speaking, Theriault stepped forward and said, “I just want to thank the town of Mexico for the last 40-something years.”

Stopping for a moment and smiling at the crowd, he said, “I’m getting choked up. It’s been awesome working with you guys.”

Turning to Madigan, he said, “And this is the best boss that I’ve ever worked for!”

After the ceremony, Mexico and Oxford County officers drove their cruisers through town and led Theriault to his home to begin his retirement.

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