In what he’s describing as a Valentine’s Day gift to his wife, Norma, of 33 years, Auburn Police Chief Edward Picard announced that he plans to retire from the force on Feb. 14, ending a 38-year term of service with the town.

While the 29 years he spent as police chief was undoubtedly his best-known achievement, Picard’s retirement ends a lifetime of public service that stretches back to 1970, when he served on a river patrol boat during the Vietnam War.

In that same year, Picard was wounded in action and was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for his heroism. He would go on to spend several months in recovery at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital, after which he left the Granite State to attend the Paier College of Art in New Haven, Conn.

Picard returned to Auburn in 1977 and went to work for the U.S. Postal Service while also serving as a part-time officer with the Auburn Police Department. He left the postal service in 1987 in order to attend the New Hampshire Police Academy.

After graduation, Picard became a full-time Auburn police lieutenant, a role he held until 1990 when he was promoted to the position of chief.

Thanks to grants from the state’s Police Standards and Training Council, Picard was able to attend a number of law enforcement institutions, including the Florida and Advanced Composite Art and Post Mortem Reconstruction at Scottsdale (Arizona) Artist School, which allowed the chief to incorporate his art school credentials to the task of forensic drawing.

Picard would later become the first forensic artist in the Granite State, a role the department says helped lead to the arrest of a number of suspects in high-profile cases throughout New England.

Under Picard’s leadership, the town built the Auburn Safety Complex in 2000 and went from a force of one full-time officer in 1980 to 10 full-time officers and six part-time officers by 2018.

“It has been the greatest honor of my life serving the residents and the town of Auburn, a place I’ve called my home for so many years.” said Picard. “My retirement awards me the opportunity to pay back my family for all the dinners, holidays, and school events that I’ve missed. Additionally, I will have the time to spend with my family, my extended family, and many friends I’ve come to know in Auburn.”

Picard said he also plans to devote his newfound free time to expanding his vegetable garden, painting and spending more time at his family’s Maine lakehouse.

In describing the chief’s legacy, Auburn Board of Selectmen Chairman James Headd noted the fact that Picard and Auburn have been synonymous for decades.

“For many Auburn residents, he is the only Auburn Police Chief they have known,” Headd said.

“On behalf of the Board of Selectmen and the residents of Auburn, we thank Chief Picard for his dedication and service, and wish him well as he retires from active duty after a total of 38 years of service with the Auburn Police Department.”

We honor you, Edward Picard.

(#Repost @Union Leader Corp)