There is only one time in an officer’s career when they are promoted to sergeant, Wiscasset Police Chief Troy Cline said. The Wiscasset Police Department, colleagues, family, and friends packed into the Wiscasset town office meeting room to celebrate that time for Alfred “Willy” Simmons.
Simmons was officially promoted to the rank of sergeant, the second-in-command at the police department, at the Wiscasset Board of Selectmen’s Feb. 2 meeting. In recognition of his new leadership status, the silver on Simmons uniform turned to gold. His wife Pam stood in front of selectmen and the crowd to replace his silver badge with a gold one.
Cline pinned gold chevrons, insignia signifying rank, onto the collar of Simmons’ uniform. They were the same chevrons Cline wore as a sergeant for the Biddeford Police Department.
“I wanted him to have them,” Cline said. “It was symbolic. It shows my respect for him as a leader.”
There were several qualified applicants for the position, Cline said, which has been vacant since former Sgt. Kathy Williams retired at the end of December 2015. In an interview process that included representatives from the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, the Bath Police Department, and the Wiscasset Board of Selectmen, “Willy shined,” Cline said.
No other applicant could compete with Simmons’ local knowledge. “It feels good to make sergeant,” Simmons said. “I’ve been here my whole career. This department is the best.”
Simmons was raised in Wiscasset. He graduated from Wiscasset High School. He said 99 percent of his family still lives in Wiscasset. Simmons began his career in law enforcement at the Wiscasset Police Department and it is where he has stayed, mostly because of the people, he said.
Simmons served as a part-time officer from 1983 until the late 1990s, simultaneously working at Maine Yankee. When Maine Yankee closed, Simmons became a full-time officer, a position he maintained for the next 18 years.
A well-known and respected member of Lincoln County’s law enforcement community, Simmons also works part time for the sheriff’s office doing court security.
There are few people in town Simmons does not know. If a kid gets in trouble, chances are Simmons went to school with one of their family members, he said.
“People know me and it makes it easier,” Simmons said. “People also know I’m going to do my job.”
Simmons has had to arrest his own family members in the past, he said. His knowledge of the community has also helped him defuse situations before they escalate to the point of an arrest, he said.
His new role with the police department will be a little different, Simmons said. However, as the field training officer for the department, Simmons is already looked to as a leader by many of the younger officers.
“They know I’m always just a phone call away,” Simmons said. “They know never to hesitate to call.”
Reserve Officer Ben Kolko trained
with Simmons when he joined the department. “He’s great,” Kolko said. The big things in law enforcement are covered at the academy, Kolko said. “It’s all the little things” Simmons teaches, like how to prepare a report for prosecution or approach a situation differently, that are so valuable, Kolko said.
Steven Smith, the department’s youngest officer, was called upon to read the police code of ethics at the selectmen’s meeting. He recently joined his father, Michael Smith, as a reserve officer at the department and was given the call number of his uncle, Donnie Smith, another Wiscasset officer who passed away approximately a year ago.
“I recognize the badge of my office as a symbol of public faith, and I accept it as a public trust to be held as long as I am true to the ethics of the police service,” Smith said, initiating the beginning of Simmons’ promotion ceremony.
Simmons was sworn in by Town Clerk Linda Perry and presented with a certificate from the board of selectmen. The police department organized a surprise party for Simmons following his official promotion. The number of people who turned out to celebrate was “impressive,” board of selectmen Chair Ben Rines said.
Nobody knows Simmons by his first name, Cline said. As of Feb. 2, Simmons’ name will begin with a new word, Cline said. It is sergeant.