Augusta police Sgt. Vicente Morris looks down Arsenal Street in 2013 after the street buckled above a natural gas pipeline, resulting in evacuations of nearby residents. Morris, who retired from the Augusta police force earlier this year, on Tuesday was named the police chief in Pittsfield. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal file

PITTSFIELD — The Town Council this week approved the appointment of a new police chief who had previously served for some two decades with the Augusta police force.

Vicente Morris was sworn in Tuesday night after councilors unanimously voted to approve his appointment to the position, allowing him to start work Wednesday.

Morris spoke at the meeting and thanked Town Manager Kathryn Ruth for her support, as well as his family. Morris mentioned how he planned to give full support to Pittsfield officers who are asked to do more and more in their community.

“Serving as a police officer today means facing adversity and overcoming increasing challenges, as we ask our officers today to do more than any time in history,” Morris said.

Before coming to Pittsfield he worked as an Augusta officer and held numerous positions ranging from patrolman to tactical team commander. He retired from Augusta earlier this year, after working there for 21 years, but then turned his attention to Pittsfield. Prior to working in Augusta, he was an Army medic for nine years.

Morris said he was drawn to Pittsfield for its small-town feel.


“I think the smaller communities, you know, it’s easier to get things done because the groups are smaller,” Morris said.

He said he believes in the importance of community policing, and hopes to continue to improve the department’s level of service.

“Please know that on my watch, we’re going to keep that level of service going and try to find ways to improve it,” he said.

The previous police chief, Harold “Pete” Bickmore, served in the role for five years before retiring this fall. Prior to his retirement, Bickmore had been on medical leave for several months. He was hired after police Chief Steve Emery died unexpectedly.

The newly adopted 2023 municipal budget sets the salary for the chief at $76,962.

An ongoing issue in recent years has been filling open officer positions in the department, which prompted concerns about officer safety. In an attempt to attract new officers, town officials have increased pay and vacation, and offered a $15,000 signing bonus. The department now has two open positions for patrol officers.

Morris also said that he wants to work with police staff to find solutions in addressing community concerns.

“In closing, I have a message for the officers and staff of the PD: I need your help,” Morris said. “No chief of police can be successful without the input of officers and staff members at every level of the agency.”

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