MORRILL, Maine — Decades ago, every county in the state had a law enforcement association, where area officers and those who supported them met regularly to share information and discuss common problems.
Now, only the Waldo County Law Enforcement Association is left, and its dwindling but enthusiastic membership wants to encourage more people to join its ranks.
Josephine Grady is one of those people. She was never an officer herself, but she joined the group because she thinks it’s “wonderful.” And she wants it to keep going because every year the organization gives several scholarships to students at the Waldo County Technical Center.
Grady feels strongly that the tradition should continue.
“I fully remember the Great Depression,” she said at a recent association meeting, held at the Morrill Snowmobile Club. “When I went to high school and graduated, you couldn’t get a nickel ahead because of the Depression. When I graduated, I would have liked to go to college, but couldn’t. That is why I am so interested in the scholarships, and that’s why I would really like to see the law enforcement group continue on.”
Others of the dozen or so association members who were present at the potluck supper remembered the history of the group.
The law enforcement associations started nationwide in the 1950s, with the Waldo County group beginning in 1960. The group started with 53 active-duty local police officers, game wardens and state police troopers, but it wasn’t long before the meetings evolved into public suppers. Both husbands and wives pitched in, and soon the women were invited to join the previously all-male group.
A BDN article from 2000 about the association’s 40th anniversary stated that it had 70 active members who attended monthly meetings to hear speakers connected with law enforcement. The organization also worked with state representatives to promote legislative issues dealing with policing.
Carl Barnaby of Searsmont, who worked 12 years with the Waldo County Sheriff’s Office and also worked as an assistant jail administrator at Waldo County Jail, said that having a robust association is good for the whole community.
“To have the public on board fosters a good relationship with law enforcement,” he said.
Waldo County Sheriff Scott Story is the group’s president and Chief Jeff Trafton of the Belfast Police Department is the vice president. Both said it has proven difficult to entice other active duty officers to join.
The good food and fellowship of the monthly meetings, plus the good work done for the scholarship endowment, may be enough to get some more officers and others on board, members hoped.
“We work together,” said association treasurer Harold Jones of Belfast.
The Waldo County Law Enforcement Association meets on the second Tuesday of every month between May and late autumn for a potluck supper and a presentation at the Morrill Snowmobile Club. For information, contact Chief Jeff Trafton of the Belfast Police Department at 338-5255.