The town of Pittsfield is mourning the loss of longtime police Chief Steve Emery, who died unexpectedly Saturday morning, according to town officials.

Emery, 61, had been the town’s police chief since 1994. He was a sheriff’s deputy with the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office and, before that, a police officer with the Pittsfield police, Town Manager Kathryn Ruth said. He was planning to retire next year.

“It’s a huge shock for people,” Ruth said. “We lost a really good man today and the town will be sad for a long time. I have to say that Steve was one of the nicest men I’ve ever met. He had a big impact on the town.”

Ruth said Emery, of Detroit, had a heart condition, but she did not know the details of what happened Saturday other than that an ambulance was called to his home early in the morning. Members of Emery’s family, reached by phone Saturday, declined to comment.

The Town Council plans to appoint Sgt. Tim Roussin, who has worked for the department for 32 years, as acting chief on Tuesday, Ruth said.

Roussin, on Saturday, said the news has been hard for the small department, which consists of four patrol officers and four reserve officers. One of the reserve officers, Alex Burns, responded to an emergency call Saturday morning from Emery’s home and performed CPR on him, Roussin said.

“He touched a lot of people,” Roussin said of Emery. “He helped out a lot of people. A lot of people that couldn’t talk to anyone, he was able to talk to them.”

In 2013, Emery was one of three men, including a local firefighter and another police officer, who swam into the Sebasticook River to rescue a woman from her sinking car after it went off the road and into the river in early October.

Several Pittsfield town councilors said they received word of his death Saturday from Ruth and said he will be missed.

“The town of Pittsfield is in a state of shock and grief,” Councilor Trudy Ferland said. “He was really a really lovely man, easy to speak with. He didn’t get overly excited about anything. He was just somebody you could go in and talk with and he would listen respectfully. He was a wonderful chief of police.”

Ferland, who works in the libraries at Vickery Elementary School and Warsaw Middle School, said it was not unusual to see Emery monitoring traffic outside or visiting with students.

“We had a great relationship with him at school,” Ferland said. “He would come to school often and interact with the students. He was well respected by both the students and teachers.”

Scott Strom, another councilor, said he had met with Emery last Monday. “He’s just so well liked,” Strom said. “This morning on Facebook all I saw was people commenting on how much they loved him.”

Ruth said that in her 35 years of working as a town manager, Emery was the best police chief she has worked with. “He’s somebody who will be missed by all,” she said. “He was a very common-sense person who was able to assess situations without reacting or flying off the handle. He would assess the situation, come to a reasonable solution and was always very calm, very committed to the town and its residents.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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