NEWPORT, Maine — For the past 25 years, Allen Graves has worn a number of police badges.
On Wednesday, he was recognized by the Newport Police Department and the Newport selectmen for his service — all as a part-time officer.
“When someone retires from a part-time position, we don’t usually give a plaque, but the job he did, I just thought he needed to be publicly recognized,” said Newport Police Chief Leonard Macdaid of Graves retiring.
Graves joined the Newport police in 1986 and eventually achieved the rank of corporal, something that’s rather unusual for a part-time officer, said Macdaid.
“He did an excellent job,” said Macdaid. “He’s going to be missed, and it’s going to be hard to replace someone who did the job he did.”
Graves joined the Air National Guard in 1982 and worked full time, eventually becoming chief of security at the base. He also worked part time as an officer at the Hampden Police Department and the University of Maine in Orono. He said he worked in Hampden until 2001 and retired at UMaine and the Air National Guard last year.
“That was a trying time as you can imagine,” said the 47-year-old Graves of Newport. “I had four different uniforms in my closet.”
Macdaid said there’s a big strain on the families of part-time officers because weekends and holidays are when part-time officers are needed the most.
“They dedicate their time for a very minimal amount of money,” said Macdaid, who added that many part-time officers work for little more than minimum wage. “It saves taxpayers a lot of money. They do it for community service, which is pretty important in my book.”
“It was difficult,” said Graves of being away from his family to work. “My wife [Terri] is fantastic. I lost a lot of holidays and she was just very understanding about it. She knew how important it was to me.”
Graves said law enforcement became a part of who he is.
“I absolutely love law enforcement and still do to this day,” he said. “My wife used to call my police work my paid hobby.”
Graves faced more challenges than just being away from home.
“Probably the biggest issue is you have to maintain the same certifications as a full-time officer,” he said. “Every year their certifications get more and more stringent.”
He recalled one of his proudest moments as a Newport police officer.
“I got to pull a drowning girl out of Sebasticook Lake one year,” he said, adding that the girl was underwater for about eight minutes. “I did CPR on her and she came back to life. That was the high point of my career.”
Graves said it will be hard to put his law enforcement life behind him.
“I still, to this day, if I hear the sirens going in town, my first reaction is to go grab my gear and see if they need help. But that’s not my place anymore,” said Graves.
Graves is moving on to be a private investigator while also working for a contractor with Homeland Security. He said state law prevents him from being a private investigator and a police officer.
“I had to make a difficult decision, and I finally arrived at that decision this past month,” he said.
Now that he has some free time, he’ll get to spend them with his two young grandsons, ages 2 and 2 months.