VEAZIE, Maine — Less than a month after his confirmation as a drug agent for the Dover-Foxcroft Police Department, Veazie Police Chief Mark Leonard has had a change of heart.
“It was an opportunity that presented itself at the right time,” Leonard said of the job offer he had accepted in the Piscataquis County town. In that position, he would have been supervised by the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency but paid by Dover-Foxcroft through a three-year Cops Fast grant. He was to begin his new duties on June 14.
In a telephone interview after Tuesday night’s town meeting in Veazie, Leonard acknowledged his decision to stay in Veazie was a difficult one to make.
“My true love is working for the MDEA but I had to do the right thing,” said Leonard, who is 37 and lives in Bangor.
“I wish I could do both. I honestly thought I could make it work,” Leonard said, adding that he had planned to commute to Dover-Foxcroft from his Bangor home. “I guess over time I would have gotten tired of the 40- to 45-minute drive,” he said.
He said, however, that the community’s reaction to his plan to leave the helm of the town’s police department was a key factor in his decision.
“I had a considerable amount, an overwhelming amount, of requests from people in the community, from the council and from my staff to stay,” Leonard said.
“I had people calling me that I didn’t even know. I was overwhelmed. That made me re-evaluate my personal life and my professional life. I decided to stay in Veazie.”
On Tuesday, Leonard said that his concern about the future of the department that he has led for nearly a decade was another factor.
“Quite honestly, my loyalty is to my employees,” he said. With his departure looming, Veazie officials had been contemplating scaling back or, in the worst-case scenario, eliminating the local police department.
“I’ve worked too hard and put too much of myself into the department to let that happen,” he said.
It was not clear Wednesday what steps Dover-Foxcroft police will take to fill the drug agent position. Police Chief Dennis Dyer did not return a telephone call Wednesday afternoon seeking details.
According to articles from the Bangor Daily News archives, Leonard joined the Veazie Police Department in 1995 and was promoted to chief in 2001.
He began his career in law enforcement with the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office. Before being hired by Veazie, he worked for the Old Town Police Department, the Newport Police Department and the Orono Police Department. He also served as assistant supervisor for the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency’s Bangor Task Force.
Leonard is a graduate of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, the Edmund S. Muskie Municipal Leadership Program, the Southern Police Institute at the University Of Louisville, Maine’s Community Policing Institute and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Law Enforcement Executive Development Seminar.