Capt. Richard M. Spirlet, Retired N.B. P. D. of Westport, MA passed away at Charlton Memorial Hospital on Monday, December 28, 2020. He was the beloved husband of Lois (Shea) Spirlet and son of the late Marcel Spirlet and Lillian (Richard) Spirlet. He was born in Acushnet, MA. and in his younger years attended St. Anthonys Elementary School and later graduated from Coyle Cassidy High School. In 1964, he joined the Coast Guard and remained in the United States Coast Guard Reserves until 1994. In 1971, he joined the New Bedford Police Department, retiring after 36 years of service at the level of Captain. Once in the department, his goal was to serve as a professional role model to other officers, as well as the community. He encouraged education, graduating from Salve Regina University with a Bachelors Degree and Masters Degree from Anna Maria College in Criminal Justice.
Over the years, he received multiple awards and played a major role in initiating various programs within the department. He continued after his retirement to promote education at Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School teaching Legal and Protective Services and at Fisher College teaching Criminal Justice. He served as a Westport Selectman for six years and was a member of the Westport American Legion James Morris Post #145. In addition, he was a talk show host for WBSM for 5 years. After patrolling the North End for five years he became the City’s first K-9 officer, paving the way for the program’s existence today.
Officer Spirlet and his K-9 partner earned numerous awards for their work with the City’s Narcotics unit. In 1993, then Sergeant Spirlet established and implemented the Community Policing Unit and in 1995, the unit earned the first Robert J. Trojanowicz Memorial Award from the New England Community-Police Partnership. From 1996-2000, Lt. Spirlet was the Commander of the north end station supervising twenty officers and three sergeants.
In 2000, Lieutenant Spirlet became the department’s Public Information Officer, for years representing the department. To promote a better understanding of the inner workings of the Police Department, Lt. Spirlet created and hosted ‘Behind the Badge’, an award-winning monthly television program that appeared on the local cable access. To reduce bank robberies and improve communication with police, Lt. Spirlet initiated the Bankers’ Security Network for all area financial institutions, a resource for crime prevention training and information sharing. From 2000 until his retirement, he had been the Director of the Citizens Police Academy. He served as the Police Department’s liaison for Housing Court, as well as, serving as the Department’s representative at community meetings, civic and neighborhood events and governmental bodies. In May 2007, he received the honor of Grand Marshall of the Aquidneck Island Police Parade held in Newport, RI.
In addition to his wife, he leaves his daughter Susan Spirlet of Westport, MA; his son Troy Spirlet (Donna) of Westport, MA. and his daughter Tara Spirlet Johnson (Steven) of Centerville, MA; six grandchildren, Stone, Shea, Scout, Cooper, Sladen and Drew; his sister Anne Spirlet of Westport, MA; and many cousins. In lieu of flowers, please consider giving to Neurosurgery Research at Boston Childrens Hospital, in memory of Richard M. Spirlet. Contributions can be made to bostonchildrens.org/givenow or mail checks payable to Boston Children Hospital Trust, 401 Park Drive Suite 602, Boston, MA. 02215-5301. Please include the name on the memo. Or please consider giving to the Massachusetts Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation in memory of Richard M. Spirlet. Contributions/checks can be made to MLEMF, 69 Maple Street Suite 1, East Longmeadow, MA 01028. Attn: Doug Mellis, Ex Director.