Monday, September 3, 2012

Stratham welcomes new police officer |

Grant Fotheringham
Stratham welcomes new police officer |

STRATHAM — Patrolling the streets of Stratham is quite a change from the streets of Rawa, Iraq.

Police officer Grant Fotheringham was recently appointed to replace Stratham Police Officer Mike Gobbi who served in Stratham since 1993. Gobbi was hired by the Greenland Police Department to fill a spot left vacant since the new Chief Tara Laurent replaced the late Chief Michael Maloney who was fatally wounded in a drug raid in April of 2012.

Fotheringham comes from the Newfields Police Department, where he worked since July of 2010.

“I loved it in Newfields. It was a small little town where you get to know everyone,” Fotheringham said. “Everybody waves and says 'Hi.' It was time to move on to something bigger.”

Fotheringham first moved to Stratham 10 years ago, when he was stationed as a Marine Corps.
recruiter in Portsmouth. Before that he was living in Peabody, Mass. with his wife and kids, commuting an hour to work. When he and his wife looked for a home closer to work, they didn't look anywhere other than Stratham.

When asked about the unique nature of patrolling Stratham, Fotheringham said that in his 10 years living here he hasn't found it to be unique in that way, but admitted that there were a lot more roads to cover than in Newfields.

“I expect it to be a lot busier than where I was in Newfields, but it is what you make of it,” he said. “You can be as busy as you want and I plan on staying busy and getting out there.”

Outside of the blue uniform, Fotheringham likes sports and likes to golf, willing to go anywhere his friends want to go as long as they can get a few rounds in.

Fotheringham has a total of six kids with ages ranging from 5 to 18. Two of his daughters go to Stratham Memorial School and two stepsons go to Exeter High School.

“I love it here in Stratham. This is it for me,” he said. “I will do my time here until retirement. I've always wanted to work here and didn't have the opportunity until now.”

In 2004, Fotheringham worked part time for the Newfields Police Department after retiring from the Marine Corps. He left in late 2005 to be restationed at a base in Twentynine Palms, Calif.

“I was on a transition team that was training Iraqi soldiers for the new Iraqi Army,” he said. “We lived with them, 11 of us - 10 Marines and one Navy Corpsman with a battalion of Iraqi soldiers.”

Although a battalion is usually around 1,000 soldiers, Fotheringham explained that an Iraqi battalion is around 300 to 400 soldiers.

“In Iraq we basically did patrolling around the town, just to make sure that there was no insurgent activity or anything like that. It's kind of like police work-ish, but obviously the rules are a little bit different,” Fotheringham said.

He explains that his details usually involved going out in the morning and patrolling, then the afternoon and staggered times at night to catch insurgents setting up improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

“We had convoys that we were doing or patrols that we had vehicles that were struck by IEDs,” he said. “We had one instance where our lead vehicle drove over a pressure plate IED and luckily it didn't go off.”

Fotheringham said the patrols were usually fired upon by snipers that would shoot and move. At the team's house they'd hear the occasional explosion on the roof.

In total, his team of 11 made it out without casualties, and the entire battalion only suffered 5 to 6 Iraqi casualties.

“We didn't have a lot of casualties. The ones we did have were vehicle bombs where the vehicle would pull up to the check point and the guy would set off the car with him in it. Other than that, it wasn't as bad as a lot of people had it. We were lucky, we had sporadic fire and mortars.”

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