VEAZIE, Maine — This has been a banner month for Police Chief Mark Leonard, the top cop in this small Penobscot County town since 2001.
A week ago today, 35-year-old Leonard became the youngest chief to be elected president of the Maine Chiefs of Police Association, succeeding York Police Chief Douglas Bracy.
“The previous youngest president was 39,” Leonard said this week.
He was installed as the association’s 43rd president during its annual fall meeting, held last week at the Ramada Inn in Bangor.
In an interview Thursday, Leonard said his goals as the group’s new president are to boost its membership and strengthen its relationships with other public safety agencies.
He also wants to strengthen and grow the association’s committees, which are responsible for a great deal of behind-the-scenes work. During the seven years he has belonged to the Maine police chiefs group, he has served on its technical and awards committees.
Leonard said that during his yearlong tenure as president, he wants to combine the experience and mentoring abilities of the group’s seasoned veterans with the fresh voices, ideas and energy of new members.
“That’s really what this is about,” he said.
But Leonard’s recognition among his peers does not end there.
Earlier this month, he was elected fourth vice president of the New England Association of Chiefs of Police, putting him on track to become the youngest president of that organization, which has a membership of 890 state and municipal police chiefs and county sheriffs from the six states that comprise New England.
“He’s on the right track. He’s on the fast track, as we say,” John Coyle, executive director of the North Attleboro, Mass.-based organization, said Thursday of Leonard.
“That totally took me by surprise,” said Leonard.
“It’s an honor to represent the 120 chiefs of police from the state of Maine, not to mention the chiefs from throughout New England,” he said. “The networking possibilities are immense.”
Leonard joined the Veazie Police Department in 1995 and was promoted to chief in 2001.
He began his career in law enforcement with the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department. Before being hired by Veazie, he worked for the Old Town Police Department, the Newport Police Department and the Orono Police Department. He also served as assistant supervisor for the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency’s Bangor Task Force.
Leonard is a graduate of the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, the Edmund S. Muskie Municipal Leadership Program, the Southern Police Institute at the University Of Louisville, Maine’s Community Policing Institute, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Law Enforcement Executive Development Seminar.
Leonard now is working toward a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at Husson College.