Eduardo “Eddie” Benjamin isn’t planning many changes as chief of the Holden Police Department. But he will follow the trail blazed by his mentor and friend Chief Chris Greeley by keeping his commitment to community policing.

Greeley died suddenly at his home in Veazie on March 9 at the age of 60.

Benjamin, 43, of Bangor was sworn in quietly as police chief Tuesday. A formal swearing in ceremony will be held April 11 during the town council meeting.

Benjamin, a lieutenant under Greeley, will wear the badge that his boss wore.

A naturalized citizen who was born in Brazil, Benjamin most likely is the only police chief of color in Maine other than Native American police chiefs.

“I was so lucky to work by the chief’s side for the past eight years,” Benjamin said this week in his first report to the council. “He was one of the best men that I have ever met. He was a great mentor, leader, friend and boss. We all loved him very much and he will be greatly missed.”

Eduardo “Eddie” Benjamin, who was sworn in as Chief of the Holden Police Department on Tuesday, puts the badge that Chief Chris Greeley wore on his vest. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Since Greeley’s death, the police department has received thousands of letters of support, cards, emails, text messages and donations honoring him, according to the new police chief. The 25 Days of Kindness program that Greeley founded about six years ago already has raised approximately $11,000 toward this December’s community support program that assists Holden families in need. Benjamin has assured the community that the program will continue to grow.

“The 25 Days of Kindness program has allowed us to connect with our community in a way that had never been achieved before,” he said. “I can easily say that this program is a pinnacle in community policing.”

At left: The Holden Fire Department had memorial bands made in remembrance of Chris Greeley and the money raised from them will go to the 25 Days of Kindness program Greeley started; at right: The first monthly report to the Holden town council written by new Police Chief Eduardo “Eddie” Benjamin. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN

To help raise funds for the program, the Holden Fire Department is selling black rubber bracelets with a blue band on them that says: “Chief Greeley: EOW 3/9/2023.” EOW stands for end of watch. They are available at the fire station and town office for a $5 donation.

The department this year marks the 20th anniversary of its founding. Greeley joined the department in 2003 and became chief in 2015.

Benjamin, who was persuaded by Greeley to become a police officer, said that the two men have similar leadership styles.

“We want to empower our guys,” the new chief said Friday. “We used to say that we work for our guys, they don’t work for us.”

Greeley’s death has not left the department short-staffed because a part-time officer has been hired full time. Sgt. Andy Whitehouse, who eulogized the former chief at his funeral, has been made a lieutenant, the position Benjamin held.

Benjamin called Greeley’s loss “devastating.”

Eduardo “Eddie” Benjamin was sworn in as the chief of Holden Police Department on Tuesday. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

“The chief was a great friend, leader and father figure to me,” he said. “The outpouring of support and the number of people who attended the service proved that he was well-liked and touched so many people.”

Benjamin attended a military high school in Brazil and served in the Army infantry there after graduation. He moved to the United States in 2003 to improve his English skills and to finish his Master of Business Administration degree.

He picked Maine off a map of the United States because the state was colored blue — his favorite color.

Benjamin met his wife, who is from Rockwood in the Moosehead Lake region, while here. They now live in Bangor with their three children.

Eduardo “Eddie” Benjamin was sworn in as the chief of Holden Police Department on Tuesday. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

He opened a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu school in Bangor in 2006 and became a U.S. citizen two years later. By 2010, he was running the school, now located in Brewer, part time and working full time as a police officer.

Because he speaks Portuguese, his native language, and some Spanish, Benjamin has acted as an interpreter after car crashes and for inmates at the Penobscot County Jail.

Last year, the department named Benjamin its officer of the year for 2021. Benjamin also received the award for 2019. He is a use-of-force instructor, a field sobriety test instructor and a drug recognition expert instructor.