This is a story about continuity.
Patrol Officer Eric Isnor, whose grandfather was a selectman during World War II, retired from the Bedford Police Department last week after a 32-year career.
Also last week, Isnor’s nephew Matthew Piccirillo completed the Municipal Police Training Commission Academy program and formally joined the Bedford force.
“I know my grandfather’s name is on the World War I rock on the Common. I know my dad lived in town his whole life. And all my siblings are still here,” Isnor related.
“Officer Isnor has served the Bedford Police department with pride, distinction, and honor for over 32 years,” said Chief Robert Bongiorno to mark the milestone. “He dedicated his life to the service of others. He was a decorated member of our department who will be sorely missed.”
Isnor, 54, completed training and joined the department in June 1989, three years after graduating from Bedford High School.
He said it was a career choice based on family and community. Isnor’s uncle was Eddie Ricker, who served as Bedford’s youth officer and was a popular policeman in town, particularly among the football team, since he often attended pre-season camp. “That’s kind of how I based my decision,” Isnor recalled.
Ricker had eight children and a house on a New Hampshire lake. As a 19-year-old, “I noticed most of the police officers in town had nice houses and big families. It looked like I could make a nice living doing that kind of work.”
Throughout his years on the force, Isnor commented, “I think Bedford has always had a fairly good relationship with the Police Department. Obviously, there are some people who dislike the police, but for the most part, the community supports the police.”
Nationally, he acknowledged, “there have been some bumps and bruises with the public.” He contrasted the current condition with the overwhelming support following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Asked to reflect on what has changed over more than three decades in law enforcement, Isnor immediately mentioned technology. But even in the late ’80s, he recalled, “we were one of the first towns that actually had computers in the town, for record checks, things like that.”
During his tenure on the force, Isnor earned an associate’s degree from Middlesex Community College and a bachelor’s in criminal justice from what is now Western New England University. Every year, during in-service training, “they focus on current issues.”
Regardless of specialized training, sometimes an officer’s reaction is simply a result of fundamental police training, Isnor said. He outlined an incident early in his career. Attempting to make an arrest from an outstanding warrant, he ended up in a foot chase and a subsequent struggle, during which the suspect almost got control of the officer’s weapon.
He remembered a different kind of close call. After stopping a driver who appeared to be intoxicated, Isnor ended up in another pursuit on foot, across The Great Road. “When I came back, a truck driver was there who was shaking like a leaf. He said he almost hit me crossing the street. Sometimes you get tunnel vision.”
Isnor has operated an irrigation business on the side for more than 20 years. He first learned the trade in eighth grade, when his older brother John was working for Mark Gallant’s Stateline Irrigation. Eric launched EMI Irrigation in 2000. He said he has more than 100 residential customers, mostly within a 30-mile radius of Bedford.
“I’m going to keep the sprinkler stuff as long as I can,” he said. But for the short term, “I’m going to enjoy my retirement for a couple of months,” said Isnor, who lives in New Hampshire with his wife Tara. “I’ll do some golfing and riding my motorcycle and relax for the winter.” By spring, he said, he may be back on Bedford streets for construction details.
Isnor has five children, three in high school, and two grown daughters, and a granddaughter in Arizona.