Jul 18, 2011

History in blue

90 years of Maine State Police

By Tpr. Tom Fiske 
and Katy England
edge staff writer

For approximately 90 years the Maine State Police have been patrolling the highways and byways of Maine. Tpr. Tom Fiske a patrol trooper from Troop E has been updating and maintaining the history of the Maine State Police, as well as teaching it to would-be troopers attending the Regional Trooper Training at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy.
“I can’t take complete credit. [The history] was started long before I came along, and I took it and made it my own,” he said. He was hooked after he attended the Maine State Police Academy’s class on the agency’s history.
“I’ve always been interested in history, and that [class] turned me on to it,” he said.
Fiske noted that the history was pieced together from various sources, from newspaper stories from around the state to interviews with family members of former Troopers and Inspectors.
What follows is a brief history of the Maine State Police compiled by Tpr. Fiske, Sgt. Percy Turner and Major Randall Nichols.
Due to space constraints, I’ve boiled down some of the information and given it a narrative format. Any errors or omissions are most likely mine.

In the beginning
In July 1921, the Maine State Highway Patrol was formed with 34 members, known as inspectors, under the State Highway Commission. The organization would add another 35 officers in August. The inspectors were responsible for enforcing motor vehicle laws and collect fees for driver’s licenses and registrations. They drove Harley Davidson or Indian motorcycles, and were outfitted in green Army surplus uniforms. In 1922, the State Highway Police were placed under the supervision of the Secretary of State.

It wouldn’t be until 1925 that the Highway Police received more leeway to enforce the law in a broader sense. The governor created a separate department and appointed Arthur H. Field as the first Chief of the State Police. All of the members could now enforce all of the laws in Maine in addition to motor vehicle law, and were issued a motorcycle, pistol and a law book. And they did this for a whopping $28 per week (actually a decent salary back in the ‘20s).
In 1935 the State Highway Police became known as the Maine State Police, formalizing their changing duties and responsibilities. That same year, the department expanded once again, bringing the number of sworn troopers to 100. The next year, automobiles were introduced and a fleet of 47 sedans were purchased at $515 apiece (more like a monthly payment these days). The patrol cars were black and the highway safety vehicles were painted white.
It was also in 1936 that the department was divided into five distinct patrol sections in Wells, Fairfield, Thomaston, Bangor and Presque Isle, with the headquarters located in Augusta.
When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, many State Police begin statewide training programs with county and municipal law enforcement agencies. Before the end of the war, more than 25 percent of the agency would take a leave of absence to serve in the armed forces. In the meantime, troopers were issued Thompson submachine guns for the duration of the war.
During this time, troopers were given new duties that included setting up road blocks to ensure that civilians weren’t pleasure driving (i.e. wasting gas, which was being rationed at the time). Police found that most of the violators were workers using government vehicles.
Troopers also monitored traffic along the Route 1 corridor to ensure that drivers were using headlight covers or blackout lights, and troopers were also stationed at bridges and other areas deemed important.

Big moments in MSP history

Investigative work has changed over time, but murder, crime and mayhem remain constants.  The Maine State Police have investigated countless crimes throughout the years, but some make bigger headlines than others.
In October 1937, New Jersey State Troopers arrested Paul Dwyer for the murder of Dr. James Littlefield and his wife Lydia. Captain Leon Shepherd processed the crime scene, utilizing emerging technologies in the field.
Throughout the strange course of the trial, both Dwyer and Deputy Sheriff Francis Carroll were convicted of murder. But 11 years later, Carroll was released on a writ of habeas corpus, due in part to evidence that was discovered by Shepherd but excluded at the original trial.
(Dwyer points out evidence at the scene of the crime)

In October of 1947, the Maine State Police radio system became integral in relaying information to firefighters who were battling a forest fire that was sparked in Oxford County and ravaged York, not stopping until it hit the ocean in Kennebunk. The fire reportedly burned over 200,000 acres and killed 15 people.
In 1956, a Limerick man shot and killed his wife and Westbrook Police Chief Pierre Harnois and wounded two state troopers. More than 100 police officers responded to the scene. The gun battle lasted more than five hours before the man took his own life.
Seventy troopers respond to Madawaska to maintain order during the 1971 labor strike at Fraser Paper Co. A confrontation between troopers and strikers and their families resulted in six police vehicles being damaged.
In 1980, 90 troopers were assigned to the Maine State Prison in Thomaston for a six-week prison lockdown. Later that year, two convicts escaped from the Maine State Prison, sparking the longest manhunt in MSP history, which lasted for 22 days. Hundreds of troopers, deputies, wardens and canines participated in the search that ended when Trooper Dennis Hayden of China and his canine located the pair.
When George H.W. Bush was sworn in as Vice President of the United States, troopers became involved with security at his home in Kennebunkport that continues to the present.
In 1983, 150 troopers and detectives provided security for the National Governor’s Conference in Portland, the largest call for troopers in the agency’s history.
In 1997, New England State Police Administrators Conference (NESPAC) was invoked to assist the New Hampshire State Police with investigating an incident where Carl Drega shot and killed two New Hampshire State Troopers, a judge and a news reporter before fleeing in a stolen cruiser. They tracked the gunman to northern Vermont, where two Vermont Troopers were wounded in the final shootout; Drega was also killed. Troopers from the traffic division and criminal investigation division also responded to investigate various crime scenes.
On September 11, 2001, all Maine State Troopers were activated after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in case of further incidents.
In 2002, troopers investigated the deadliest crash in Maine history, where a van with 15 occupants drove off the John’s Bridge in Northern Piscataquis County into the river, drowning 14.
In 2007, President George W. Bush met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at George H.W. Bush’s residence on Walker’s Point in Kennebunkport. Troopers were deployed for the gathering, which took place without incident.

We have the technology

The equipment used by troopers has evolved over the years. Here’s a brief overview of some of their gear from the early days to the present.
1921 – Inspectors are issued Harley Davidson or Indian motorcycles to patrol the highway.
1936 – Automobiles replace the motorcycles, though there are still some motorcycles in use.
1937 – The State Bureau of Identification is created to keep all criminal records in the state.
1940 – Roger that; the first two-way radios are being used, and communication centers are established in August, Scarborough and Wells.
1950 – Captain Roger Doyle collaborates with Ford Motor Company to develop the first domestic vehicles specifically upgraded for police patrol.
1956 – Roof lights are installed on patrol vehicles, and the department gets its first polygraph machine.
1976 – The MSP begin using citizen band radios for patrol. The underwater recovery team (i.e. the dive team) is formed as is the State Police Emergency Response Unit (more recently known as the Tactical Team). The Emergency Response Unit is called to Greenwood City that August to deal with a man who had opened fire on two troopers responding to the report of a disturbance. The man is arrested after an all-night standoff.
1978 – The aircraft enforcement unit becomes a permanent part of the agency.
1980 – The first mobile breath alcohol testing device is put into use for rural alcohol enforcement.
1984 – The hostage negotiation team is established.
1986 – The Maine State Crime Laboratory is built.
1988 – The 357 Smith & Wesson revolvers are replaced by 9mm Beretta semiautomatic pistols.
1994 – The bomb disposal team is created.
1995 – Video cameras are installed in cruisers for the first time.
1997 – The State Police Crime Lab is expanded to house a new DNA section.
2003 – Sworn troopers are issued laptop computers, and the agency makes the move to computer-based reporting.

Officer down
It’s no secret that being a Maine State Trooper is a dangerous job, and 10 troopers have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in Maine.

1924, Patrolman Emery O. Gooch was killed when he lost control of his motorcycle in Mattawamkeag after joining the Highway Patrol a month prior.

1925, Trooper Fred Foster was killed when his motorcycle struck a horse hauling a load of hay in Belfast.

In 1928, Trooper Frank Wing was killed when his motorcycle collided with an oil truck in Millinocket. Wing had joined the Maine State Police two months earlier.

In 1964, Trooper Charles Black was shot to death responding to an armed robbery at the Maine National Bank in South Berwick.

In 1980, Trooper Thomas Merry was killed after he was struck by a car involved in a high-speed pursuit. Merry had positioned his cruiser as part of a roadblock and was seeking cover when he was hit.

In 1986, Trooper Michael Veilleux was killed when he lost control of his cruiser in Dayton. He had graduated from the State Police Academy the month prior.

In 1989, Detective Giles Landry was shot to death while investigating a report of child abuse in Leeds. The gunman also killed the woman that Landry was speaking with before committing suicide.

In 1994, Trooper Jeffrey Parola was killed when his cruiser crashed in Sidney while he was responding to a domestic violence call as a member of the Tactical Team.

In 1996, Trooper James Griffith was killed when a vehicle collided with his cruiser as he attempted to make a U-turn to pursue a speeding vehicle in Warren.

In 1997, Detective Glenn Strange succumbed to heart problems days after arresting a drunk driver who kicked and punched him in the chest in Linneus. Strange had been promoted to detective weeks before his death.

If you have pieces of Maine State Police history that you would like to share, you can email Tpr. Fiske at Thomas.D.Fiske@Maine.gov.

Jun 30, 2011

Funeral for SFC Jason R. Sargent

ELLSWORTH - SFC Jason R. Sargent, 39, died in Georgia, June 25, 2011 after a courageous battle with cancer. He was born in Bar Harbor, July 9, 1971 the son of Mark T. and Pamela A. (Frost) Sargent. 

His remains will be arriving back in Maine this afternoon (June 30) between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the Maine Air National Guard Base in Bangor.  Jason will be escorted by an Army Honor Guard and Maine State Troopers.  A motorcade from Bangor to the Jordan-Fernald Funeral Home in Ellsworth will then occur.  Below is the obituary for Jason.  The family has express that the public is welcome to observe.  More information with reference to visiting hours and services are available at the Jordan-Fernald website

Jason was a graduate of Ellsworth High School. He served in the US Army from 1993 until 2000. After returning to Maine he became a Maine State Trooper and then a Maine State Motor Carrier Inspector. In 2003 the Army sent him to Afghanistan for 12 months in Support of Operation Enduring Freedom. When he returned from Afghanistan he returned to work for the State of Maine until 2008 when the Army called again. Jason rejoined the Army Marksmanship Unit located in Fort Benning, GA and served there until now. Jason loved to compete in pistol competitions and teach others to shoot a pistol. He loved to fly airplanes, hunt and spend time with his family and friends.

Jason is survived by his wife of 16 years, Cindi and their three sons, Nicholas, Andrew and William; parents, Mark and Pamela Sargent of Otis; brother Ben Sargent of Otis; father and mother-in-law, Ed and Cindy Foss of Hancock; grandparents, Roger and Jeannine Sargent of Trenton, and Barbara Frost of Ft. Myers, FL. Jason also leaves behind many aunts, uncles, cousins, and a sister-in-law, two brothers-in-law, two nephews and many, many friends who loved him dearly and will miss him every day. He was predeceased by his grandfather, Harold Frost.

Calling hours will be held 4 to 6 p.m., Saturday, July 2, 2011 at Jordan-Fernald, 113 Franklin St., Ellsworth. A funeral service will be held 2 p.m., Sunday, July 3rd at the Maine Coast Baptist Church, Bangor Road, Ellsworth. Following the interment at Frost Cemetery, Mariaville, family and friends are invited to a celebration of Jason’s life at Beech Hill School in Otis.

Contributions in Jason’s memory may be Mary Dow Center for Cancer Care, 50 Union St. Ellsworth 04605 or to Caring Bridge.

Jun 22, 2011

2011 Maine State Police awards

Courtesy of Maine Public Safety

AUGUSTA - The Maine State Police held awards on June 9 to honor troopers.

Thomas Pappas was awarded the Trooper of the Year Award. Pappas has been a trooper since 2008, following two years with Portland Police. He patrols in Androscoggin County and is one of the department's top drug investigators.

Col. Williams called Pappas "a one-man drug task force."

In the past year, Pappas has investigated several drug cases, all started from a traffic stop. A large quantity of illegal drugs, weapons and almost $30,000 has been seized from those efforts. Pappas grew up in Queens, New York, graduated from high school in Harrington, Maine and worked as a lobster fisherman prior to his law enforcement career. He is the 46th trooper to be honored as Trooper of the Year. The award started in 1965 to honor Trooper Charles Black, who was shot to death at a South Berwick bank robbery in 1964. Pappas lives in the town of Bowdoin with his wife Gina and two young children.

Others nominated for trooper of the year were Doug Cropper, Troop A; Peter Michaud, Troop C; Chris Rogers, Troop D; Jarod Stedman, Troop E; Dan Dechaine, Troop F; Greg Roy, Troop J; Josh D'Angelo, Troop K; Mark Holmquist, CID I; and Joshua Haines, CID II.

Also honored at the annual State Police Awards Ceremony on June 9:

Special Awards of Commendation to Trooper James Leonard, Sagadahoc Deputy Sheriff Matthew Shiers and Bath Police Corporal Marc Brunelle for saving a man threatening to jump off the Sagadahoc Bridge between Bath and Woolwich.

Meritorious Service Awards to Sgt. Tom Ballard, Troopers Corey Smith, Jason Madore and Adam McNaughton, and Detective Jason Richards for their role in apprehending a man charged with murder in the town of Brooks.

Trooper Jonathan Leach received a meritorious award for single-handedly taking into custody an impaired driver who pulled a knife on him in Manchester in February.

Meritorious awards also presented to Trooper Patrick Munzing, Kennebec County Sheriff's Deputy Aaron Moody, Gardiner Police Officer Nate McNally and Pittston resident William Stover for pulling a woman from her wrecked burning vehicle in Chelsea in April. Office of Information Technology staffer Shawn Hoyle from Public Safety received a Colonel's Award for developing two computer programs used by troopers.

Litchfield resident Matthew Smith received a Special Award of Commendation for reporting a dangerous driver on Route 202 in Manchester in May and then taking the keys from the car to prevent the driver from leaving. It was later determined the woman driver was having a diabetic reaction.

South Portland police officer Kevin Webster was honored for his 14 years of service to the State Police Canine Training Unit. Since 1997, Webster has been involved in 24 training classes for police officers and their dogs.

A number of agencies were singled out for their help in last June's triple homicide investigation in the town of Amity, where two men and a young boy were stabbed to death. Honored were the Maine Warden Service, Aroostook Sheriff's Office, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Amity Town Manager Margaret Frye, United States Border Patrol, Dover, New Hampshire Police, the local office of the Maine Department of Transportation, Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and three staffers from the State Police Crime Lab, Cynthia Homer, Christine Waterhouse and Michelle Fleury.

Also honored were two civilians who are being credited with helping police identify Camden Hughes, the young boy whose body was found in South Berwick. Steve Scipione was the truck driver who found the pickup driven by the boy's mother and Lisa Gove was the woman who gave police a detailed description of the vehicle.

May 27, 2011

Maine State Police Pipe and Drum Unit

(From left, Detective Scott Gosselin, Trooper Kyle Willette, Trooper Trevor Snow, and Trooper William Plourde. The Maine State Police Pipe and Drum Unit performs at various functions around the state, including the 20th BLETP Graduation on May 13. Members also performed at the Law Enforcement Memorial in Augusta on May 12.)

By Katy England
edge staff writer

When you think of all the specialized units that come under the purview of the Maine State Police, musical talent may not be the first thing that leaps to mind. However, for the past 15 years, there has been a group of dedicated souls that make up the Maine State Police Pipe and Drum Unit. The ensemble consists of bagpipers and snare, tenor, and bass drummers.
The unit was formed back in 1996 by Scott Nichols, Jim Jones, Lance McCleish and Rick McAlister with the first performance being held in 1998. Nichols and Jones spent undertook the considerable challenge of learning how to play the bagpipes from scratch.
“I’ve always been a drummer, and I played in bands even when I wasn’t working as a trooper,” said McAlister in a phone interview. “I happened to be teaching a class, and there was a student from the New Hampshire in a pipe and drum unit who invited me down to the graduation. I saw them perform and decided we could put something together.”
McAlister said the group purchased all of their own equipment – which, when you consider that the instruments were between $600 to $800 and the kilt and accessories cost around $300 to $500, is no small investment – and began recruiting people to come and play.
The members of the Pipe and Drum Unit are spread all over the state, making rehearsal time a premium.
But the unit dedicates a lot of time to mastering a small repertoire of music, so when they do perform, they sound great.
And unlike other specializations, not all of the members of the unit are sworn troopers. But there is a tie to public safety, be it the director of Maine Emergency Services or the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.
Currently the unit is made up of Trooper Trevor Snow, Trooper Kyle Willette, Retired Lieutenant Gerard “Red” Therian, DEP/Senior Environmental Engineer Tim MacMillan, EMS Director Jay Bradshaw, Retired Sergeant Rick McAlister, Trooper William Plourde and Detective Scott Gosselin. There are a few newcomers who are also learning the ropes, but McAlister said it might be a little while before they’re ready for a live performance.
Finding musicians to dedicate the necessary time can be challenging, but that didn’t stop the two sworn troopers who currently play in the unit from picking up the bagpipes – from scratch. Bagpipes are notorious for being a difficult instrument to master, but Troopers Trevor Snow and Kyle Willette, like some of the founding members, met that challenge.
“When I worked at the academy, I was involved in some of the training classes. The pipe and drum unit has historically played for the graduating classes. The pipe and drum unit always interested me and I thought I’d like to learn to play the bagpipes,” said Snow in a phone interview. “I contacted Sgt. Nichols and Director Jay Bradshaw, who has functioned as Pipe Major, and he taught me how to play the bagpipes so I could join the unit.”
That makes it sound incredibly simple, but Snow noted it took him a year of dedicated practice before he played his first event with the Pipe and Drum Unit.
“If you’re starting from scratch it’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of practice,” said McAlister. “Maybe it’s just that thing that troopers have; for these guys to pick up an instrument – the bagpipes – and stay committed to it.
“I like it because it’s a unique representation for our agency. I’m able to represent the state police in a unique manner and it affords a nice opportunity to represent law enforcement as a whole,” said Snow.
The Pipe and Drum Unit performs at various functions across state and New England, including all of the Basic Law Enforcement graduations at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy since they combined the school 10 years ago. The unit also performs at memorial services, including the Law Enforcement Memorial that was held on May 19.

May 26, 2011

Col. Robert Williams names command staff

AUGUSTA – Colonel Robert Williams has selected the members of his central command staff for the State Police. Raymond Bessette will serve as the new deputy chief. The two majors will be Lt. Gary Wright, who will oversee the field troops and criminal investigation divisions, and Lt. Christopher Grotton, who will oversee everything else as head of support services.
Bessette is a 25-year State Police veteran who lives in Dedham and will serve as Lt. Colonel. For the past four years he has served as major in charge of support services, which includes the State Police crime lab, computer unit, the traffic division, the State Bureau of Identification, licensing and all the specialty response teams. He served as a lieutenant for six years, overseeing communications and special projects. As a trooper, he patrolled in Washington and Hancock counties as a member of Troop J. He also is a former commander of the State Police Dive Team.
Wright is a 23-year veteran who lives in Vassalboro. For the past six years, he has headed the Criminal Investigation Division in central Maine, investigating homicides and suspicious deaths. As a sergeant, he patrolled in Troop C (Skowhegan) and also served with the department’s internal affairs division. He is a former member of the State Police Tactical Team and also led the department’s Critical Incident Debriefing Team
Grotton is a 21-year veteran who lives in Glenburn. For the past nine years as a lieutenant, he has overseen the training and special services units and also the Traffic Safety Division. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and patrolled in Penobscot and Piscataquis counties as a trooper and sergeant for 12 years as a member of Troop E (Orono). Grotton also has served as the commander of the Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT).

45 cadets graduate from MCJA

20th Basic Law Enforcement Training Program graduation

By Katy England
edge staff writer

VASSALBORO – After 18 weeks of intense training, the 20th Basic Law Enforcement Training Program cadets graduated on May 13 at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in Vassalboro.
45 cadets walked across the stage after having their badge pinned to their uniform, signifying the transition from cadet to law enforcement officer.
Director John Rogers took time to acknowledge the retirement of Sgt. Joe Poirier, but named the Professionalism Proficiency Award after him. He also dedicated one of the rooms at the academy the Frank E. “Joe” Poirier Room, with the quotation “Who protects us” inscribed upon it.

Class awards were issued to cadets who excelled in various fields. Officer Caleb McGary of the University of Maine Public Safety was named class valedictorian and issued the Academic Proficiency Award, Combined Practical Skills Proficiency Award, the Professionalism Proficiency Award and the Randall Parsons Iron-Man Award; Officer Bryan J. Parker of the Auburn Police Department and Troopers Kyle D. Pelletier and Samuel D. Quintana were tied for the Sid Bridges Firearms Proficiency Award; Officer Dennis Matthews of the Auburn Police Department received the Emergency Vehicle Operation Course Proficiency Award; Trooper Benjamin K. Sweeney of the Maine State Police received the Charles How IV Physical Fitness Award; and Trooper Jillian M. Monahan of the Maine State Police and Officer Bryan J. Parker of the Auburn Police Department shared the Mechanics of Arrest, Restraint and Control Proficiency Award.
The cadets stay at the Academy Monday through Friday, returning to their homes across the state on weekends for the duration of the training.

The graduates are listed below.

David L. Arsenault, Knox County Sheriff’s Office
Christopher R. Baez, Maine State Police
Matthew P. Bell, Biddeford Police Department
Reid C. Bond, Maine State Police
Tucker L. Bonnevie, Maine State Police
Kristie A. Bouchard, Brewer Police Department
Robert W. Carr, York County Sheriff’s Office
Brent A. Chasse, Maine Marine Patrol
David Coflesky, Maine State Police
Nicholas D. D’Angelo, Maine State Police
Wayne H. Drake, Farmington Police Department
Joshua R. Engroff, Baileyville Police Department
Duane K. Fay, York County Sheriff’s Office
Thomas P. Ferrier, Boothbay Harbor Police Department
Troy R. Francis, Penobscot Nation Warden Service
Ryan W. Freeman, Bangor Police Department
Scott R. Hendee, Biddeford Police Department
Christopher M. Kelley, Portland Police Department
Thomas W. Kwok, Maine State Police
Cody E. Laite, Camden Police Department
Ryan D. Lawson, Mount Desert Police Department
Michelle E. Legare, Fryeburg Police Department
Heath L. Mains, Saco Police Department
Paul M. Mason, Maine State Police
Dennis V. Matthews, Auburn Police Department
Kyle S. McDonald, MCJA Tuition Student
Caleb H. McGary, University of Maine Public Safety
Todd W. McGee, Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office
Jillian M. Monahan, Maine State Police
Matthew W. Moorhouse, Freeport Police Department
Eddie H. Murphy, Sanford Police Department
Benjamin J. Murtiff, Augusta Police Department
Todd D. Nyberg, Augusta Police Department
Bryan J. Parker, Auburn Police Department
Kyle D. Pelletier, Maine State Police
Brandon P. Perry, Windham Police Department
Jonathan D. Provisor, Auburn Police Department
Eric P. Quatrano, Windham Police Department
David L. Quinn, Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office
Samuel D. Quintana, Maine State Police
Christopher T. Schofield, South Portland Police Department
Andrew M. Simmons, Augusta Police Department
Jason T. St. John, Westbrook Police Department
Benjamin K. Sweeney, Maine State Police
Kyle M. Wells, Maine State Police

May 22, 2011

School of Hard Knocks

VASSALBORO – Many college kids are heaving sighs of relief as they finish finals and head home. The same holds true for those who have recently entered the field of law enforcement and are wrapping up their 18 weeks at Maine Criminal Justice Academy (MCJA). They receive grades as well – it’s the tests that are slightly different.
Throughout the course of their stay at the MCJA, cadets are trained in various fields, from criminal and traffic law to alcohol enforcement and much, much more. One of the courses is the Mechanics of Arrest Control and Restrain (MARC), where they learn the basics of placing a subject under arrest (you can read more about this in the December issue “Hands-on Learning”). But in order to show that they have not only learned the maneuvers, but can apply them under duress, the cadets participate in scenario-based testing towards the end of the academy. The cadets are put under stress, and then have to “arrest” an instructor – who doesn’t make easy.
“It’s important for cadets to be prepared to begin working on the road,” said Sgt. Scott Hamilton, one of the lead MARC instructors at the academy. “[The scenario fights] build confidence and show them they can accomplish their goal of taking people to jail.”
With approximately 44 cadets, it can take awhile to go through the scenarios and the grading. MARC instructors from across the state, some who have been assisting with the MARC course, assist with the scenarios, which can leave lasting impressions. Helping out can mean scrapes, bruises and more.
“I do it to make the cadets better and give them a real-life experience,” said Marine Patrol Officer Rustin Ames. “We want to prevent them from getting killed on the road.”
The scenarios are designed to be difficult, but for good reason. Altercations on the road are intense and don’t follow the rules you’d see in boxing or even Mixed Martial Arts fights.
“The practical scenarios simulate an actual encounter on the road between a combative subject and an officer,” explained Hamilton. “It allows the cadet to hone their skills in a controlled setting.”

May 18, 2011

Bangor Police annual bike auction

BANGOR - The annual Bangor Police Department Bike Auction will be held on Saturday, May 21st at the Parks and Recreation building, 647 Main Street in Bangor. The preview will begin at 8 a.m. and the auction will start at 9 a.m. and run until all the bikes are sold.

Apr 15, 2011

Into the cold dark waters

(A warden submerges in the frigid waters of Sebago Lake. Photo by Katy England)

Warden dive team trains for ice dive

By Katy England
edge staff writer

In a state that is locked in snow and ice for a good six months out of the year, patrolling the wilderness takes on new meaning. Especially when you consider that the Maine Warden Service dive team has to brave frigid waters in Maine year round.
The 10-person specialty team is composed of Cpl. Mike Joy (commander), Warden Bruce Loring (asst. commander), Warden Phil Richter, Warden Tony Gray, Warden Rick Stone, Warden Rick Ouellette, Sgt. Scott Thrasher, Sgt. Terry Hughes, Warden Robert Johansen and Warden Mike Pierre. There are three instructors and four dive masters.
“You need to have a knowledge of basic dive skills and the desire to be a part of the team,” said Loring. “We don’t dive alone; it’s definitely a team effort.”
He said that members should also have a willingness to learn more and further their dive skills.
Unfortunately, the dive team is usually activated not as part of search as rescue operation, but as a recovery effort in the event that someone has drowned or gone missing for a period of time in water.
In addition to recovery operations, the dive team also assists with other tasks, including inspecting state hatcheries and ensuring the intake pipes are clear and performing searches for endangered species in waterways.
The dive training is incredibly important, especially since the conditions for a dive can be extremely hostile. In addition to the cold, divers need to be aware of various concerns including air supply, depth and low visibility even in decent conditions.
“Safety is our number one concern. There are places we will not operate due to safety concerns,” said Loring.
(The Wardens' ice boat and travel over open water and ice and snow. Photo by Katy England)

In order to keep these skills strong, the wardens conduct an annual ice dive training. This past years was conducted out on Sebago Lake on March 21 through 23. During the training, one of the simulations they performed was a “rescue the rescuer” scenario. The idea is that one of the divers encountered a problem during the dive and another diver had to locate him and bring him back to the hole in the ice. Once under the water, visibility is limited and divers are instructed to use the angle of their rope as a guide.
“We’ve conducted a search by feel only,” said Loring. “That’s why I feel that this training is extremely important. You can’t go eight to 12 months and then put them in conditions like this and expect them to perform well.”
(Wardens also practiced entering open water and swimming under the ice pack. Photo by Katy England)

Warden Johansen has always had an interest in diving, since high school, but wasn’t able to join the dive team on the warden service until 2010 when he moved to Millinocket.
“I took a class, and that first breath of air you take when you’re under water I’ll never forget,” he said. “Being on this team is more than diving. Doing what we do is unique. It’s a challenge, but it’s fun too.”
Warden Richter has been a member of the team for 10 years and credits the fellowship on the team with getting through tough searches.
“We’re often involved in someone’s tragedy. The camaraderie helps get you through the tough times,” he said.
Throughout the training, another diver in full gear is standing by in case there is an actual problem with the simulation.
(A diver is removed from the cold waters. Photo by Katy England)

Mar 17, 2011

Training the trainers

(Students practice various control techniques)

Eleven become certified MARCs instructors at MCJA

By Katy England
edge staff writer

VASSALBORO – Eleven law enforcement officers from around Maine became certified instructors in the mechanics of arrest control and restraint (MARC) at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy (MCJA). The people taking the course were from various agencies, including municipal police departments, the Maine State Police, The Maine Warden Service and State Judicial Martial Service. For an in-depth look at the MCJA's MARC course read Hands-on Learning.
In order to become certified as instructors, the students not only have to be proficient with the techniques and able to execute them well, they also need to be able to articulate how certain maneuvers are made and be able to explain it in various ways.

(Blocks for knife attacks)

“We go over the whole curriculum,” said Dep. Arthur Smith, co-lead instructor for the course. “We instruct it to them and have them instruct it to us to make sure they understand it and understand the concepts behind it.”
The class is four days, eight hours per day. Once they have completed the course, they are certified to instruct other people in MARC. Officers can take it back to their department to instruct other officers and hold refresher courses. But they can also assist in the instruction for the MARC course at the MCJA for new cadets going through the Basic Law Enforcement Training Program (BLETP).
“It’s crucial to have the most properly-trained instructors throughout the state to ensure proper training for new and senior officers,” said Smith.
The instructors are encouraged to return to the academy to assist with training the cadets during the BLETPs.
Andrew Weatherbee of Ellsworth Police Department and Eben Richardson, deputy marshal with the judicial branch, both have plans to assist with instruction at the academy in the future.
“This was my favorite part of the BLETP,” said Weatherbee. “I wanted to give back to the cadets.”

(The participants go over baton strikes)
Richardson studied at Tracy’s Karate with Sgt. Scott Hamilton, co-lead instructor for the course, back in 1998. When Hamilton began instructing at the academy, Richardson asked if he could help, but learned he needed to be law enforcement certified to do so. After taking the 100 hour law enforcement pre-service course and getting hired as deputy marshal, he was able to take the course. Richardson self-sponsored himself to take the course.
“I was able to fulfill a dream,” he said. “I was very fortunate to be accepted into such a program as a self sponsor. It was a dream that started 12 to 13 years ago.”

Law enforcement officers who completed the program are as follows:

Chad Allen, Sanford Police Department;
Justin Dolci, Brunswick Police Department;
Haley Fleming, Winslow Police Department;
Justin Fowlie, Maine Warden Service;
Donald Laflin, Scarborough Police Department and Cadre at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy;
Jededia Malcore, Maine State Police;
Eben Richardson, State Judicial Marshal Service;
Jason Scott, Maine Warden Service;
Steven Stubbs, Windham Police Department;
Andrew Weatherbee, Ellsworth Police Department; and
Timothy Williams, Skowhegan Police Department.

Mar 11, 2011

Monster pot-hole causes problems on I-95

AUGUSTA - State Police say a large pothole on Interstate 95 in Augusta this afternoon has caused significant traffic tie-ups.

The large pothole has forced the closure of the passing lane on I-95 southbound near Mile 109 in Augusta just north of the Exit 109B off-ramp. MaineDOT crews are currently patching the pothole that is approximately 15-feet long, 2-feet wide and 6- to 8- inches deep. Maine State Police are on scene directing traffic. Crews expect to have the lane reopened in time for the evening commute.
The trouble spot is in the southbound lanes near the Old Winthrop Road overpass in Augusta.

At  least five vehicles have been damaged, including an SUV that overturned.  Two others collided with each other, sending one person to the hospital with minor injuries.   At least two other vehicles have sustained flat tires.

At 3:30 p.m. traffic was backed up about three miles in the southbound lanes.

Jan 28, 2011

Update on kerosene, gasoline mix in Gorham

Statement from Little Mart, courtesy of Maine Public Safety

GORHAM - Since the contaminated kerosene was identified on Thursday, Little Mart has taken action to inform the public, pump out contaminated product from customer locations, perform inspections by qualified technicians and provide refunds or replacement fuel to customers.   Upon further review of inventory and delivery records, it has been determined the kerosene product was contaminated at approximately 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 25.  Little Mart personnel placed the kerosene pump out of service approximately 12 noon on Thursday, Jan. 27 once the contamination was realized.  The local fire department was notified at that time and warnings were posted at the Little Mart immediately.  The contaminated kerosene was removed from the storage tank and the tank has been replenished with new kerosene fuel that is safe for use.

The overall volume of contaminated kerosene sold was less than 300 gallons, not 400 gallons as originally estimated.  There were less than 50 purchases of contaminated kerosene between Jan. 25 and Jan 27.   Numerous potential customers have called or visited the store and Little Mart personnel are responding to all of their claims.

Little Mart considers the safety of its customers and the general public as its top priority and will continue working with the local fire department to ensure appropriate actions are taken to resolve this situation.  Little Mart would like to thank the Gorham Fire Department, the State Fire Marshal and the local news media for getting word out to the general public regarding this situation.  Little Mart encourages any customers that may have concerns or questions to contact the store or the Gorham Fire Department.

Jan 27, 2011

Fire Marshall warns of kerosene mixed with gasoline in Gorham

Courtesy of Maine Public Safety

GORHAM - The State Fire Marshal's Office is warning the public that kerosene sold at a Gorham convenience store within the past two days was mistakenly contaminated with gasoline.  Fire Marshal John Dean said the mixture could cause an explosion and urged anyone who purchased kerosene from the "Little Mart" at the intersection of Routes 202 and 237 in Gorham since Tuesday at noontime should stop using the product immediately.

The Fire Marshal's Office was notified this afternoon by Gorham Fire Chief Robert Lefebvre and Gorham was using its reverse 911 calling system to notify residents.   Dean said a delivery of gasoline was mistakenly pumped into the kerosene tank on Tuesday and that some 400 gallons  of the kerosene-gasoline mixture have been purchased in the 48 hour period before the mistake was discovered this afternoon .

Dean urged anyone who had purchased kerosene from the "Little Mart" in the past two days to stop using the product .  Dean said any heating devices fueled by the contaminated mixture should be removed from any enclosed living space immediately.

Those who have purchased the contaminated kerosene can return it to the "Little Mart" for a full refund.

The store's phone number is 892-4153.

Anyone with any concerns can also contact Chief Lefebvre at the Gorham Fire Department at 839-5581.

Jan 14, 2011

Funeral for Maine State Police lieutenant to be held Monday

Lt. Charles "Chip" Howe

Courtesy of Maine Public Safety

VASSALBORO - Adjacent to a room that bears his name, funeral services for retired State Police Lieutenant Charles Howe will take place Monday at 10 a.m. at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in Vassalboro.  Howe, better known as “Chip,” died early Wednesday morning at his home in Vassalboro after declining health from a rare neurological disease.  He was 59.

He served the State Police for 31 years – the last 18 of those years in the training division – and he played a hand in the training of every police officer and state trooper in Maine from 1987 to his retirement in 2005.  The academy was located on Silver Street in Waterville for most of those years, but Howe also helped oversee the relocation of the academy in 2001 to the former Oak Grove Coburn School in Vassalboro, where his services will take place Monday.

Chip joined the State Police in 1974 and initially patrolled in Troop F (Aroostook County) and Troop J (Washington & Hancock counties). He was named Trooper of the Year in 1983 and transferred to the academy in 1987 as a sergeant and was promoted to lieutenant in charge of training in 1995.  During those 18 years he served at the academy, close to 2,000 Maine police officers were trained there.  The weight room in the training center is named in his honor.

Following his retirement, Chip served as an analyst for the State Police Computer Crimes Unit. Prior to joining the State Police, Chip was a watchman for the Maine Forest Service on top of Bigelow Mountain and he also served as a forest ranger. In all he had 37 years of state service. Always physically fit – he was an avid skier, runner, bicyclist and hiker.

He is survived by his wife, Jane, and four grown children.

Jan 11, 2011

Maine State Police make arrests after high speed chase

HANCOCK COUNTY – Maine State Police make arrests after high speed chase.

On Jan. 1, troopers responded to a citizen report of a vehicle on Route 182 in the Cherryfield area that matched the description of the vehicle that was believed to have been involved in an armed robbery in Ellsworth on Dec. 30, 2010.  The vehicle was a Silver Saab bearing Maine dealer plate 92K.  Tpr. Dave Barnard located the vehicle on Route 182 as it pulled into the parking area on Tunk Lake in Township 10.

Barnard made contact with the operator who refused to comply with Tpr. Barnard’s commands.  The vehicle then left the parking area and began traveling east on Route 182 at speeds in excess of 130 miles per hour.  The operator lost control of the vehicle at the intersection of the Eastbrook Road and Route 182 and the vehicle struck a utility pole.

The driver, later identified Hyunkook Korsiak, 29, of Harpswell, fled the scene on foot.  The passenger in the vehicle, Joseph Miller, 24, of Whitneyville, was located near the scene and was arrested for receiving stolen property (class B).  The investigation disclosed that the vehicle had been reported stolen from an auto dealership in Brunswick on Dec. 26, 2010.

A short time later, troopers received information that the driver (Korsiak) had stolen a second vehicle from a residence on the Eastbrook Road in Franklin.  It was determined that the vehicle was a red 1992 Saab belonging to a woman from Trenton.  Sgt. Glenn Moshier of the Ellsworth Police Department located the vehicle on Route 179 and attempted to stop the vehicle.

Korsiak again failed to stop and continued into Ellsworth.  Korsiak pulled into a driveway on State Street and was taken into custody without further incident.  Korsiak was charged with one count of theft by unlawful taking or transfer (class B), one count of theft by unlawful taking or transfer (class C), eluding (class C), passing a roadblock (class C), criminal speeding (class E) and driving to endanger (class E).

The Hancock County Sheriff’s Department and Ellsworth Police Department also assisted at the scene.      

The Maine State Police extended thanks to the concerned and alert citizen who reported the whereabouts of the vehicle.

Jan 8, 2011

Veazie Police have a new website

VEAZIE - The Veazie Police Department recently launched a sleek new website. It contains contact information, frequently asked questions, employment information, mission statement, officer down memorial page, town ordinances, and law enforcement-related links and more. Check it out a http://veaziepd.net/.

Jan 6, 2011

Auburn Police Department offers Citizens' Police Academy

Courtesy of the Auburn Police Department, via their Facebook page.

AUBURN - The Auburn Police Department proudly announces the newest session of the Citizens’ Police Academy (CPA). This exciting 10-week program, which is scheduled to begin on Monday, February 7, offers community members insight into how local police officers perform their duties and how this outstanding department serves the community. Participants will meet at the Auburn Police Department each Monday from 6  to 8:30 p.m.

The goal of the CPA is to foster better communication between citizens and police through education. Graduates of the academy learn about the structure and activities of their police department, share their knowledge and experiences with their friends and neighbors, and quite often go on to become volunteers with the department. The CPA is a series of informational classes, a behind- the-scenes look at the Auburn Police Department. The program operates on the premise that informed and educated citizens will be more supportive of police officers and will be more productive within their own neighborhood and community.

The APD has offered the CPA for several years, and always find it to be a rewarding experience for the participants as well as the officers. “We all benefit from enhancing citizen understanding of the role & function of the police department,” says Auburn’s Chief Phil Crowell. “Participants will not be trained as police officers, but will get a fun and informative overview of the Departments’ functions and operation.”

 All of the course instructors are members of the law enforcement profession and will present material on topics such as:

Basic patrol functions;
Use of force (Lethat, less than lethal);
OUI detection and enforcement;
Domestic violence;
K-9 demonstration;
Drug enforcement;
Crime scene investigation and much more.

Class size is limited and will be filled on a first-come basis. Participants must attend at least eight classes to pass the Citizens’ Police Academy. A background check will be performed on all applicants. Applicants with felony convictions or extensive criminal backgrounds will not be accepted.

Anyone interested in receiving an application for the Citizens’ Police Academy should visit the Auburn Police Department at One Minot Avenue, visit www.auburnpd.com to download the application, or contact Liz Allen, Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) Coordinator at 333-6650 or lallen@auburnmaine.gov. Application deadline is February 1, 2011.

Jan 5, 2011

Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office promotions and new hires

BANGOR – The Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office recently promoted two deputies and hired two more.
Deputy John Knappe was promoted to detective and Deputy Roy Peary was promoted to sergeant.

(Detective John Knappe)
Knappe has been in law enforcement for 19 years, starting his career in Orono in 1992, before signing on with Brewer Police from 2000 to 2004. He deployed to Iraq with the Army Reserve with Scout Sniper Squad Leader with the 100th BN 442nd Infantry of Hawaii for a year and half. Upon his return in 2006, he joined the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office. He’s a member of the Special Response Team, which is deployed for high-risk incidents, including stand-offs and home invasions, and was awarded the SRT Member of the Year for 2009.
Knappe looks forward to conducting in-depth investigations for various scenes, including felony-level crimes.

(Sgt. Roy Peary)
Peary has been in law enforcement for around eight years. He began his career with the Old Town Police Department in August of 2003, before moving to the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office.
As sergeant, he will support the other deputies on his crew, and arriving as backup to any major scenes.
“They’re outstanding employees. They’re dedicated to the agency and show a high level of professionalism and are responsive to the public,” said Chief Deputy Troy Morton.
Steven Saucier and Patty McLaughlin were hired as full-time patrol deputies.
Saucier worked for Searsport Police Department since 2002, and came on full time in 2004.

(Deputy Steven Saucier)
“One thing I like about it is the knowledge that you can make a positive difference in someone’s life,” said Saucier.
(Deputy Patricia McLaughlin)
McLaughlin worked for the Lincoln Police Department for three years. Prior to that she was a dispatcher for the Maine State Police and also worked in the district attorney’s office in Bangor.
“I’ve worked alongside [The Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office] for years. I was just looking to become part of the agency,” she said. She noted that the independence of the work and the opportunity for growth were part of the appeal.
“It’s a great group of people to work with,” she said. “I’ve always been a part of their extended family. Now I’ve been welcomed into the fold.”

Jan 4, 2011

Camden names Lt. Randy Gagne chief of police

(Chief Randy Gagne)

CAMDEN – On Jan. 1, Lt. Randy Gagne officially took over the duties of chief of police for the Camden Police Department. He will be taking over for Chief Phil Roberts, who has been chief for 10 years.
Gagne ahs been with the Camden Police Department for more than 21 years, and has been lieutenant for more than eight. He is also the lead instructor for defensive tactics at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy.
Camden is Gagne’s hometown, and he considers it beneficial to be able to work in the same town where he grew up.
“I think it’s a great thing to work in the community you grew up in because you know the people,” he said. “[Camden] still has the hometown feel and the people are good to deal with.”
Gagne had been second in command at the Camden Police Department, and expressed interest in taking over the chief’s position. After an oral board interview, he was invited back to discuss the position in an open forum and at a select board meeting he was approved to succeed the chief.
“The response that I’ve gotten from the members of the public – people who know me and followed my career – called and expressed congratulations … It’s been very nice. I couldn’t be happier. I appreciate the support of those people and I’ll make sure I do the best job I can in my new position.”

(Sgt. Michael Geary will assume the role of lieutenant this summer)
Sgt. Michael Geary has been appointed to fill Gagne’s position of lieutenant around June of 2011.
“We worked really well together our entire careers,” said Gagne. “He has the most experience as a supervising sergeant.”
Geary became interested in law enforcement after becoming part of a local Explorers program through the sheriff’s office.
“I started riding with them and then went to college. A full time position opened here and I’ve been here ever since,” he said. “I like the challenge. Day to day, nothing is ever repetitive in this job.”

Jan 1, 2011

Hands-on learning: Finals

This is the final installment of the ongoing blog where I shadowed the 19th BLETP cadets during their defensive tactics MARC course as well as other programs. You can start at the beginning here, or read the feature story as it appeared in The Maine Edge here.

VASSALBORO – In colleges and schools when it’s getting time to graduate that means finals. At the Maine Criminal Justice Academy there are also tests – some written, some very much hands-on.
In the defensive tactics course, the testing was administered in the last couple weeks of class. The cadets had to show that they understood and could apply the techniques and were scored appropriately.

But there was also the practical portion which happened early in December.
The cadets had to engage an instructor in a scenario-based encounter where they had to go hands-on with the subject.

 I’ll only say that both the cadets and the instructors had their work cut out for them.