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.