PORTSMOUTH, R.I. — Both unforgettable fixtures at the Portsmouth Police Department for decades, the police clerk and her unofficial 4-legged assistant will say goodbye to their police family and retire at the end of May.
Debbi Pappas, police clerk for the Portsmouth Police Department for nearly 20 years, and Henry Charles Pappas, a pure-bred chihuahua and unofficial police employee for 14 years (in human years), will spend their last day at the police station on May 26.
Henry, who is frequently seen greeting visitors or patrolling the police station’s halls, is dressed in his “Police” T-shirt uniform the day Portsmouth Press visited.
“He was supposed to be very small, relatively speaking,” said Pappas while holding Henry, who appears larger than an average chihuahua.
At 14.5-years-old, about 75 in human years, the graying chihuahua wags his tail in the records office, showing no sign of slowing down.
“He wants to keep working. He loves to come to work,” said Debbi Pappas, who began her employment at the police station in June 1997. Henry began his “employment” in February 2003, more than 14 years ago.
When Pappas started, Dennis Seale was the police chief at the time. It was his idea for Debbi to bring Henry to work, Pappas said.
“He started off as the Animal Control Officer. He said ‘Why don’t you bring him in. You can’t leave him at home,’ and that’s how Henry started his job,” Pappas said.
Prior to serving as police clerk, Pappas worked as tax clerk in the Tax Assessor’s office for 9 years, totaling more than 29 years of service to the town of Portsmouth.
A Portsmouth resident for 60 years, Pappas says she is looking forward to the time off and moving to the west coast of Florida.
“Mostly looking forward to no alarm clock and I would like to go to the beach,” she said. “I would like to spend more time with my little boy. And, I plan on moving right after Thanksgiving.”
Pappas will be honored this Monday night, along with other town retirees, with a proclamation from the town council.
The meeting, which is open to the public, will begin Monday at 7 p.m. at Town Hall, 2200 East Main Road.