HOULTON, Maine — Kris Calaman, the new detective with the Houlton Police Department, acknowledged Wednesday that he has “a real interest” in conducting in-depth investigative work.
It is an interest that has been building since he became a full-time officer with the department in 2008, and one that he said he intends to explore further in order to increase safety and get justice for as many victims as possible.
Calaman, who graduated from the Maine Criminal Justice Academy a year ago this month, was promoted to detective on May 9. He took over for Carolyn Crandall, who retired in April after 21 years with the department. The 38-year-old Pennsylvania native said there were many reasons why he wanted to be a detective.
“I really wanted to work more in-depth with the public,” he explained. “There are many issues out there, such as elder abuse, fraud and prescription drug abuse that I want to be more involved in stopping, and I felt like this was a good way to do it.”
Houlton Police Chief Butch Asselin said Calaman beat out five other applicants for the position. He said Calaman set himself apart from the others because of his natural interviewing skills, his tenacity and ability to think outside the box. The chief also praised him for his skills when investigating two high profile incidents in the community, including the case of a postal employee who was allegedly diverting prescription medications from the Houlton Post Office for his own use and an incident where a Canadian man threatened to blow up a Cyr Bus at the Irving Big Stop in Houlton.
The abuse of prescription medication and other drugs is a significant problem in Houlton and throughout Aroostook County, according to police, but Calaman said there are other crimes that are proving to be just as corrosive to the community.
“We see a lot of theft, forgery and fraud in this town,” he explained. “There have been a number of cases where the victims of these crimes have been the elderly, and their caregivers or friends or family members have taken one or multiple checks and forged them. A lot of times, this has gone unnoticed for a time until another party has looked at their bank statements. The number of cases have grown over the past few years.”
In many cases, he explained, the money stolen has gone to buy drugs or alcohol.
“Despite what people see and hear, however, there are some people who still think that we don’t have a drug problem in this community,” said Calaman. “But the truth is, it is a problem. We are fortunate that we as a department have great resources to tap into to combat this problem in the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Department and the Maine State Police. We work well together and we are working hard to combat these problems.”
At the same time, Calaman said the department is not seeing as many cases of check scams and other fraud as it did in the past few years.
“Early last year, it was pretty bad,” he said. “People, especially the elderly, were being victimized by scammers telling them that they had won money or other prizes, and they would get that prize as soon as they sent a certain amount of money. I think that we and other agencies have done a good job of educating people about this problem, so people know now to hang up the phone or throw the check away.”
Calaman said he is looking forward to receiving additional training and to becoming more involved with the community in his new position.
“We have a great department here,” he said Wednesday. “And I am looking forward to continuing my work with my colleagues and interacting with new people as time goes on.”