At Mark Schmink’s celebration party for his new position as the Rockport Police Department’s first ever lieutenant was a framed picture drawn years ago, in which Schmink, as a 7-year-old, wrote of his desire to become a police officer.
Schmink achieved his goal when he joined the force and, in assigning Schmink to the lieutenant position in June, Chief John “Tom” McCarthy realized a goal of his own.
McCarthy estimated he had worked toward creating a lieutenant position and rearranging the department’s hierarchy for the past ten years. An officer’s retirement opened up funding for the new position, McCarthy said. The chief is at the top of the chain of command, and directly under the chief is the lieutenant, then three sergeants answer to the lieutenant.
Before implementing the lieutenant position, Rockport employed four sergeants, all directly under the chief and all holding the same level of authority. The new position allowed Schmink to be promoted up from sergeant.
“It just defines a better line of authority within the department, a more organized hierarchy,” McCarthy said. “I’ve seen that already. It’s helped reduce some of my workload.”
Schmink has taken on scheduling, policy implementation, overseeing operations and training, writing grants, acting as a liaison between the police and selectmen, and more as part of the newly created position.
But, aside from the restructuring of command and duties, the new position required some uniform adjustments, too.
The 6-foot, 5-inch tall former Marine, said he takes great pride in his personal appearance, and admitted getting his uniform together in the morning “takes awhile.”
There are the gold bars, denoting the lieutenant position, which he pins to his shirt collar after measuring and determining exactly where to place them. Schmink also measures the placement of his name tag and badge. And then the chained gold whistle too, an optional bit of regalia that Schmink has chosen to wear, though other officers playfully tease him.
“I’ve worn that for 26 years, and I refuse to take it off,” Schmink said. “Being from the Marines, I take pride in my uniform.”
Schmink, a Marine from 1984 to 1988, worked as a personal body guard for Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North, then embroiled in the Iran-Contra affair, during his service. Propped up on top of a filing cabinet in one side of his office is a photo of North. Adjacent to that wall are photos taken at the 7-mile Run to Remember, a run honoring fallen police officers, which Schmink and his 19-year-old daughter, Kelsey, complete each May.
“It kills me,” Schmink said, pointing to a photo of his arm slumped around Kelsey during the 2012 run, “but I still come back each year.”
Across the room, on a cabinet, stand about 10 metallic golf and bocce ball trophies. And, in front of those are Schmink’s collection of challenge coins. Schmink, not a man for clutter, said over the years he has only hung on to his favorites.
Schmink works in the same office that he had as sergeant, a rank he reached in 2003 after nine years in the department, first as a reserve officer from 1994 to 1996, then as a patrolman until his 2003 promotion.
McCarthy said Schmink, who had already written grants for the department and taken on responsibilities outside of his assigned tasks as a sergeant, was a safe pick for lieutenant.
“He’s contributed a lot to this police department,” McCarthy said.
To earn the promotion, Schmink took an intensive exam and interviewed with the chief. The studying and exam, Schmink said, were strenuous and difficult. But studying is familiar to Schmink. The lieutenant returned to school at age 35 and spent seven years, including summers, as a full-time student, earning associate, bachelor and master degrees in law enforcement and criminal justice. Plus, he said, the work will pay off.
“When people study for these exams, it makes them more knowledgeable in the law,” Schmink said, planning to use his newly expanded knowledge to further improve the force. Schmink, who has participated in the department from many different roles, said he intends to support his sergeants, patrolmen and reserves from his new position.
“I strove to get into a position where I could provide the working force out on the street every day with the things they need,” Schmink said, whether that be supplies or training.
“I feel extremely fortunate that I have the position I have, that I work in the community in which I work, and that I work with the people with which I work,” Schmink said.
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or email@example.com.