Maine State Police veteran picked as new Ellsworth police chief

Lt. Chris Coleman, head of the Major Crimes Unit of the Maine State Police, has been selected as the new Ellsworth police chief.
Linda Coan O'Kresik
Lt. Chris Coleman, head of the Major Crimes Unit of the Maine State Police, has been selected as the new Ellsworth police chief.
Posted Aug. 18, 2014, at 12:53 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 18, 2014, at 4:20 p.m.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — The city has picked a new chief of police who is well known in law enforcement circles in eastern Maine.

Lt. Christopher Coleman, head of the Maine State Police major crimes’ northern division, has been selected to lead the Ellsworth Police Department.

Coleman confirmed his new appointment during a phone interview early Monday afternoon. He is expected to start his new job on Oct. 1, according to Ellsworth City Manager Michelle Beal.

Coleman said he grew up in Bucksport, graduated from Bucksport High School in 1986, and he has strong ties to the Ellsworth area. He and his wife, who works as a registered nurse in the Ellsworth area, live in Surry, and his daughter is a senior at George Stevens Academy in Blue Hill. The couple also has a son who is studying computer science at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Coleman said he has been with the Maine State Police for 25 years and is in the process of retiring from the statewide law enforcement agency. He said it is bittersweet to be leaving Maine State Police, where his father was a longtime lieutenant and where his brother Gerald Coleman is a detective, but that he is ready for a new chapter.

“I’ve been very fortunate,” he said. “I’ve worked with a lot of dedicated people with the Maine State Police.”

As head of the state police’s northern major crimes unit for the past three years, Christopher Coleman has overseen 20 detectives, four sergeants, two secretaries and two polygraphists. The unit covers 11 counties — Sagadahoc, Kennebec, Somerset and eight more to the east — and just last year investigated 16 homicides, according to information posted on the Maine State Police website.

Prior to heading up the northern major crimes unit, Coleman was commanding officer of the Maine State Police Troop J patrol division, which is based in Ellsworth.

Coleman said he is looking forward to joining the Ellsworth Police Department, which has a good reputation for its professionalism. He said he is glad to be able to continue his law enforcement career but is eager to take on a more community-oriented role.

“It’s going to be closer to home,” he said. “It seems like a good place to work and will be a good challenge for me.”

In Ellsworth, Coleman will oversee a department that has 15 full-time officers, not including the chief’s position, one part-time officer and four dispatchers, according to Beal. She said Coleman’s salary has not yet been determined.

Coleman replaces John DeLeo, who retired in April from the city’s police chief post. In the meantime, the department has been supervised by Lt. Harold Page, who has been serving as acting chief.

Beal said Monday that 22 people applied for the job and seven were interviewed. Coleman’s level of experience and his “excellent reputation,” she said, made him the city’s top choice. She added that the city was “very happy” with the quality of the top candidates who applied for the job.

She said the city was looking for someone who can make sure that laws are enforced but can serve as a liaison with the community when it comes to public-safety related issues, such as automotive traffic through a residential neighborhood or the impact of development. Ellsworth has about 8,000 residents, she said, but as a service center, it has as many as 60,000 people working, visiting or residing within its boundaries at any given time.

“That’s not an easy thing to do,” Beal said of balancing the myriad responsibilities of being a police chief. “Ellsworth is a growing city, and the [police] department will have to grow with it.”

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