Community policing has been the emphasis of Wiscasset Police Chief Troy Cline’s 4 1/2-year tenure at the department. On March 28, he will depart Wiscasset to lead the police force in the community he grew up in.
The leadership skills he acquired while serving Wiscasset will be put to good use in his new position as Buxton police chief, Cline said. “This is bittersweet,” he said. “I’m excited but I’m sad to leave this community.”
The support Cline has received from town managers, selectmen, fellow department heads, and the community during his time in Wiscasset “is huge and very much appreciated,” he said.
The Wiscasset Board of Selectmen was reluctant to accept Cline’s resignation at the board’s March 15 meeting. “Would it do any good to refuse?” Selectman David Cherry said. With deep regret, selectmen made a motion to approve it.
“I want to thank you for your service to this community,” Selectman Judy Flanagan said. “You’ve done a fine job and we appreciate it. We wish you much safety and happiness.”
Selectman Judy Colby hailed Cline for his commitment to the community and to the children of Wiscasset.
Cline began his career in law enforcement in 1989 after four years in the U.S. Army. Working in law enforcement was his childhood dream, Cline said – a dream he had since watching the police television drama “Adam-12” growing up.
“It just hit with me,” Cline said. “I always wanted to be police.”
Cline continued his service in the armed forces as a reservist. His service included a deployment to Iraq during the Iraq War. He ended his military service in 2008 with the rank of battalion command sergeant major, a rank only 1 percent of enlisted members of the U.S. military achieve, Cline said.
Cline’s career in law enforcement began with the Biddeford Police Department, a position he took to be close to his hometown of Buxton. For about 19 years, Cline worked as a patrol sergeant, training manager, and SWAT team leader in Biddeford.
He moved on to the Hooksett Police Department in New Hampshire in 2008 to serve as a patrol lieutenant and continue developing his leadership skills in law enforcement. Hooksett sent Cline to the first tier of the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Association’s leadership training.
Cline would complete the second and third tiers of the training, earning the prestigious FBI Trilogy Award, while serving as Wiscasset’s police chief, a position he accepted in August 2011.
“It better prepared me to be a better chief and Wiscasset allowed me to get the award,” Cline said. “That speaks to Wiscasset and their dedication to excellence to have department heads with the most up-to-date training.”
While serving in Wiscasset, Cline was on the streets doing patrol as much as he was in the office handling the administrative duties of chief. From developing budgets to chasing horses, Cline experienced it all: “the good, the bad, and the downright silly,” he said.
The accomplishments of the department during Cline’s time there were not his own, Cline said. Every gain the department made was an effort that included the full staff. “I would never ask an officer to do something I wouldn’t do myself,” Cline said.
The inter-agency cooperation in the Midcoast is phenomenal, Cline said, noting the support the department has received from the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, the police departments in Lincoln County, and the law enforcement agencies in neighboring counties.
The Wiscasset Fire Department and the Wiscasset Ambulance Service have also been outstanding, Cline said. “Without their assistance, it would have made things very, very difficult,” he said.
Cline named the equipment the department was able to purchase with U.S. Department of Homeland Security grants through the Lincoln County Emergency Management Agency as one of the highlights of his tenure.
However, Cline said he is most proud of making sure a school resource officer was in Wiscasset schools. In his first year in Wiscasset, Cline found that he was spending a lot of his time at the schools, which was one of the reasons why he fought so hard for the position, he said.
Despite the recent resignation of the Wiscasset Police Department’s second school resource officer in two years, Wiscasset has not given up on the position, Cline said. Advertisements for the position have been posted and funding for the position will be split between the police department and the school in the position’s third year, he said.
“It’s critical to have officers in schools,” Cline said. “The sooner (law enforcement) can interact with kids, the better.” It allows kids to see officers as their friends, Cline said, and is part of Cline’s emphasis on community policing.
Cline will now leave Wiscasset to police the community he was raised in, a goal he has had for a long time. “When the opportunity came up, I jumped on it,” Cline said, because Buxton is his home.
“My whole life is pretty much in Buxton,” Cline said. The position gives him the ability to take better care of his mother, and to be closer to his family and significant other.
Buxton has changed significantly since Cline was a child. When Cline was growing up, Buxton had a constable. A growing town of more than 8,000 people in the Portland metropolitan area, Buxton now has an eight-member police force.
Cline will be able to devote his full time and attention to the administrative duties of police chief, something he said he is looking forward to. He will also be able to bring the philosophy of community policing to his hometown.
“There is a certain trust in knowing (a police officer) came from your town and grew up with the same issues,” Cline said. “They know you’re going to do right by them.”
Cline plans to make Buxton the last town he is the police chief for, he said, but Wiscasset will forever stay in his mind as the first.
As he leaves Wiscasset, Cline said he has several hopes for the department. “I hope whoever my successor is fights for this department,” Cline said. “I hope people realize it’s critically important to keep the department.”
The battle over whether Wiscasset will continue to fund a full-time department is one Cline “fought a couple of times,” he said.
Cline also hopes taxpayers realize the importance of the equipment requests the department makes. A request to use capital reserve funds to purchase a new cruiser for the department was defeated at annual town meeting in 2015.
Wiscasset ultimately had to use its contingency fund to purchase a new cruiser, faced with the cost of repairing the department’s 2008 Crown Victoria. The department is now in a similar situation with its Dodge, which will need to be replaced shortly, he said.
“It’s a need, not a want,” Cline said. “We don’t want another situation where we have to pull money out of contingency.”
The Tideview Group, a management consultancy firm based in Kennebunk that conducted a review of the Wiscasset Ambulance Service in 2015, has been retained to help in the hiring process for a new police chief.
Town Manager Marian Anderson said she hopes to fill the position by June. In the meantime, an interim chief will be appointed from the Tideview Group, Cline said.
As Cline transitions to his new position in Buxton, his door is open to Wiscasset. Cline is hopeful the new chief and Sgt. Willy Simmons will call with any questions. Anytime, Cline said, he will answer.