GOULDSBORO, Maine — At 23 years old, Tyler Dunbar does not come across as somebody who has been a full-time police officer for less than a year, according to Town Manager Bryan Kaenrath.
The Board of Selectmen has been so impressed with Dunbar, Kaenrath said Thursday, that it has decided to hire him as the town’s new chief of police. He heads up a department that, besides his position, consists of one full-time patrol position and three part-time positions.
Dunbar is a Gouldsboro native and resident who first started working as a full-time police officer only last summer. Before that, he was a part-time officer for the Gouldsboro Police Department.
Dunbar fills a position that has been vacant for more than two months after selectmen fired the prior chief, Paul Gamble, in February.
According to a lawsuit Gamble subsequently filed in Hancock County Superior Court in Ellsworth, town officials took exception to Gamble’s use of a town credit card to fill his personal vehicle with fuel when he used his vehicle on police business outside of town.
Kaenrath said that despite Dunbar’s relative lack of experience, town officials are confident he quickly will adapt to being in charge of the town’s law enforcement efforts. Dunbar’s first day in his new job was Monday.
“He certainly is on the younger [side] of the spectrum of police chiefs,” the town manager said. “We think he possesses quite a bit of judgment and character. He handles himself as if he has 20 years more experience [in law enforcement].”
Dunbar said Thursday that he never imagined himself becoming a police chief at a relatively young age and with less than a year of being a full-time police officer, but he said many local people and law enforcement officials with other agencies encouraged him to apply for the job.
“It was kind of unexpected,” Dunbar said. “It wasn’t something I was shooting for this early in my career.”
Dunbar acknowledged he might be the youngest police chief in Maine, but said he doesn’t know if that is the case.
“There’s a lot of work cut out for me,” he said.
Bob Schwartz, executive director of the Maine Chiefs of Police Association and former police chief for South Portland, said Thursday that he knows of no other police chief in Maine as young as Dunbar.
He said that if a town is going to have a relatively inexperienced police chief, it makes sense to have him or her supervise a fairly small department that he or she already is familiar with. A town that hires a chief without much experience as a department head can always ensure the new chief gets additional training to improve his or her management and leadership skills, he added.
“I am sure the guy can do the job,” Schwartz said.
Kaenrath said that Dunbar will start out making $20 an hour and, if he passes a six-month period, his rate of pay will increase to an as-yet-undetermined amount. Dunbar is getting full benefits, which started on his first day as chief.
With Dunbar’s promotion, Kaenrath added, the town now is looking to hire a full-time patrol officer to fill Dunbar’s former post, plus two part-time officers.
The town manager said town officials expect there will be a learning curve as Dunbar adjusts to his new position, but that they fully expect that he will meet their expectations.
“He’s a very impressive young man,” Kaenrath said. “I think in the very near future we will have a very good police chief.”