The thin blue line was thick and strong Tuesday at the Cornerstone Baptist Church in Camden. More than two dozen local, county and state police officers with area firefighters lined the church walls in honor of fallen veteran police officer LeForest Doucette of Rockport, who died last week, a few weeks short of his 79th birthday.
The Rev. Timothy A. Gillam said Doucette was “a man of great distinction and accomplishments” who said repeatedly that he did not want a big funeral with a lot of show “and people gawking at me.”
But his accomplishments required a formal funeral, to give people a chance to honor the veteran police officer, Gillam said.
The church was packed with an overflow crowd spilling into the hall.
Doucette served as a working police chief in Rockport for 32 years. During his tenure as chief, he attended law enforcement training programs at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, where he learned fingerprinting identification and took radar and several investigative courses.
At the time of his retirement in 1996, Doucette had expanded the Rockport Police Department from one full-time chief to three full-time patrolmen, a lieutenant and 12 reserve officers.
Doucette actually created the Rockport Police Department, then “set the good example for the rest of the department,” Gillam said.
Doucette graduated from Rockport schools, joined the army as a paratrooper in 1948, then served in Korea. On July 4, 1951, he married the love of his life, his wife, Fay.
The Rev. Chris Ellis, Doucette’s former pastor, could not make it to Tuesday’s service, but sent a message of appreciation with the chief who always ended up arguing religion with him.
Doucette was the “least hypocritical man” that the pastor ever met. He never pretended to be something else or someone else and always displayed his good sense of humor, the pastor said.
In their endless discussion of religion, Doucette said he expected the pastor to die first, “then be there to open the gates for me.”
“I thank God for knowing him and I hope we meet in the next life,” Ellis said.
Gillam reminded the packed church that “life is too short … it all goes by so fast. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring,” he said. And he reminded the assembly that death was not the end, but a new beginning.
Often the job of dealing with police departments and police chiefs is one of the most trying parts of small-town newspaper coverage. But “Forest” always treated reporters with dignity and humor, the way he wanted to be treated.
Whether working on a homicide or a two-car fender bender, night and day, Chief Doucette was always cooperative with the press.
He didn’t want the full-dress funeral with the military honor guard, a long procession and television cameras.
But he got one, as he deserved.
Send complaints and compliments to Emmet Meara at firstname.lastname@example.org.