Q&A with Bangor’s new police chief

Posted April 23, 2013, at 7:12 p.m.

Bangor police Lt. Mark Hathaway has been selected as the city’s new police chief, it was announced Tuesday. He starts next month.

The Bangor Daily News sat down with Hathaway to ask him about his concerns and goals as he takes his new job.

Q. What is the biggest [law enforcement] issue facing Bangor?

A. For me, the biggest issues right now are the quality of life issues in Bangor. I live in Bangor, and I have a sense when someone complains of loud parties, tire squealing, fights, and what they perceive as drug deals. I know that’s real. That’s one of the core issues for me. I really do want us to get our hands around what I see to be quality-of-life issues in our neighborhoods all throughout the city. Downtown is an issue, of course, but so are a number of neighborhoods all around Bangor.

Q. No specific issues, besides quality of life?

A. When I say quality of life, I’m specifically talking about what you perceive to be as a problem. In your neighborhood it may be loud parties. Two neighborhoods away it might be someone repeatedly squealing their tires or drag racing up the street. I want folks that live in Bangor to feel comfortable. They can sit on their front porch on Saturday night and when they go to bed they’re not going to have to worry about someone breaking into their cars or stealing their bikes off their porches. That’s what I am hoping to accomplish. Living in Bangor gives me a sense of what the problems are. I’m sincere when I say I really do want to fix these issues throughout the whole city, not just in particular pockets. I want everybody in this city to know we are aware of their problems.

Q. How healthy is the [Bangor Police] Department right now?

A. I think we’re in fine shape. We’re five short right now. We do work our officers a great deal in the summertime. Fatigue is an issue. We have a lot going on here. We really are a very busy police department. We truly have a fantastic amount of talent in this police department and we use it. But when you are short staffed as we have been over the last two or three summers, it does begin to wear on the officers, and we appreciate the effort they give us and the good work they give us.

Q. In light of the bombing in Boston, what can be done to ensure security at Bangor’s many large public gatherings such as the Waterfront Concerts and the American Folk Festival?

A. We’ve already met with them [ operators of the outdoor waterfront events]. We are going to make some changes — behind-the-scene changes — most people won’t see it.

The thing with Bangor is we’re already working together. We know everybody on a first-name basis.

Q. Are there any gun control measures at the state or federal level you support?

A. I’m not going to speak for the city or the Police Department. I believe gun ownership is a right. I don’t know if there should be some language or if more in-depth discussions [should take place] about what some people perceive to be assault weapons. Personally, I support gun ownership. Let’s leave it at that.

Q. What is the situation today in the city with synthetic bath salts?

A. It continues to be a problem. It may not get the media attention it once did … but it’s still a problem. Our officers continue to engage folks [daily]. It certainly hasn’t left our community, unfortunately.

Q. Are there any qualities that you bring to the job that will help you meet your goals?

A. I have virtually done every job in the building here. To me that’s important. I think to the folks who work here that’s important. I have a sense of what the officers go through day to day. I don’t particularly know what it is like to be in the patrol car day to day, but I have a good sense what the folks are doing in the patrol division and the detectives bureau. I’ve worked there. When they tell me what the problems are, I appreciate what they are saying. Or when they do good work, I understand that as well.

Q. Who have been your role models through the years?

A. There was a lieutenant who has long since retired. When I came on at the department as a young police officer, I looked to him. I wanted to become a lieutenant here. I wanted to become him. Everything he did, I just liked his style. I liked the way he approached the management of people. I just liked everything about the way he handled himself, so I kind of mirrored my career after him. Everything he did throughout his career — he was a detective, he was a bomb technician, he was a sergeant, lieutenant — I followed that path. I sort of locked in on that and things have worked out really well for me.

Q. Are you going to mention a name?

A. Bob O’Halloran.” [Bangor police Lt. Robert O’Halloran went on to become the Orono police chief after he left Bangor.]

Q. Over your 25 years on the Bangor force, are there cases that you still think about?

A. When I was a detective, most of the cases, my assignments, were typically child abuse and sexual assault cases. Of course it’s gratifying when you solve one and when you don’t or you think you know who’s responsible but you just can’t put the case together, it does wear on you.

If you speak to any police officer here or one of our detectives, they’ll tell you the same story. It’s gratifying when you do get the bad guy, but sometimes you just don’t have the information or the cooperation of folks you need or there is not enough physical evidence to put the person in jail or arrange for an indictment, and it’s frustrating, but you just keep digging after it. Good work, quite often, provides good results.

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