Chief Robert Federico stands next to a cruiser Wednesday morning at the Norway Police Department from where he retired after 26 years of service, 18 as chief. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

NORWAY —When his son was involved with an Explorer police program with the Boy Scouts in the 1990s, Robert Federico got to know several local officers.

He was 38 years old and working in the plumbing field. The money was good, but Federico knew that with a wife and five children, it was time to look for a job that offered better health insurance and retirement benefits.

“I hadn’t decided what I wanted to do, but I knew if I was going to do something, I needed to be doing it soon,” Federico said.

A couple of the officers involved with his son’s Explorer group suggested he ride along with them during their shifts.

“I came out and rode with them a little bit,” Federico said. “Afterwards, I said, ‘This is what I want to do.’ That’s when it all started.”

A career which started with him serving as a part-time officer in 1996 ended Wednesday when he retired as chief following a 26-year career with the Norway Police Department. The Select Board is expected to approve the appointment of investigator Jeffrey Campbell as his replacement at Thursday’s meeting.


Federico quickly moved up the ranks. He became a full-time officer in 1997. He was promoted to patrol sergeant a year later and became a detective in 2003 before his promotion to police chief the next year.

The job was never mundane, and Federico’s passion for policing never waned.

“I’ve enjoyed every single day I’ve come here for work,” he said. “I look forward to coming to work every day. Not one day did I ever say, ‘I don’t want to go in today.’ That’s pretty phenomenal these days.”

He admits there is a certain excitement about the job and that every day is different. He said the work is “just as exciting as the first day.”

The chance to help people may be the most important factor that has fueled his passion.

“I just wanted to help people,” Federico said. “You truly do. You feel good if you’ve been able to do somebody good for that particular shift. It does make you feel good, especially after they shake your hand after you arrested somebody and say, ‘thank you for treating me decently.’ It’s satisfying.”


In a town of just over 5,000 residents, Federico developed the resources and specialties among his officers not often seen in a small police department. His department has its own K-9 unit. It also has two investigators and a school resource officer.

“To me, that’s a lot for a small town,” Federico said.

“Other departments have school resource officers,” he added. “But we’re the only one that is totally funded by the taxpayers. The school doesn’t pay anything for the (school resource officer) program.”

Chief Robert Federico sits in his office Wednesday morning on his last day of work at the Norway Police Department. “I’ve enjoyed every single day I’ve come here for work,” he said. He served 26 years, 18 of them as chief.Chief Robert Federico sits in his office Wednesday morning on his last day of work at the Norway Police Department. “I’ve enjoyed every single day I’ve come here for work,” he said. He served 26 years, 18 of them as chief. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

While enforcing laws, keeping the peace and helping people remain the main focus from when he first started, the biggest change he has seen in his 28 years on the force is the huge increase in calls dealing with mental health issues. Not much else has changed, he said.

Federico supported a bid in 2012 to merge the police departments in Norway and Paris. Norway overwhelmingly approved the plan but a vote in Paris ended in a tie, which defeated the plan.

“At the time, a lot of folks were concerned about the rise in taxes,” Federico said. “I think they were concerned with an increase in calls for service in both towns. The chief of Paris and I sat down and talked about how we might be able to help each town individually and combined. I thought we came up with a pretty good program.”

“Now, I’m not so sure those things are the same,” he added. “I’m not sure how I would feel about it at this time.”

Federico plans to take things easy in retirement, spending time at his camp in Woodstock. He said he has a “bunch of grandchildren” that they want to spend time with him. He also anticipates doing some traveling, especially in the winter to escape the cold temperatures.

“I know every organization needs a little bit of change from time to time to reinvigorate the organization,” Federico said. “I feel this is that time for the Norway Police Department. New leadership and new ideas to shake things up a little bit, not a whole lot, but a little bit.”

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