York Reserve Police Officer Chris Timmons at Harbor Beach. Credit: Jennifer Bryant | The York Weekly

YORK, Maine — Follow York Reserve Police Officer Chris Timmons around for a 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. shift and you will see how good community policing can be, and he’s not quite 24 years old. Some things just come naturally.

Averaging 20 miles a day on his electric-powered bicycle, Timmons covers Harbor Beach, York Village, Harris Island, the Town Dock and “anywhere else the dispatcher sends me,” he said with a boyish smile. The electric motor charges when he pedals and rides downhill. “It’s a great workout to ride that much every day,” he added, “and if I need to hurry off to respond to a call, I’ll engage the electric motor, which will get me going over 20 mph.”

Born in Boston, Timmons was 5 when his parents, Paul and Marti, moved to York. “I think that almost makes me a Mainer,” he said with a chuckle. He graduated from York High School, then attended Northeastern University in Boston where he majored in criminal justice and minored in international affairs and security studies, including a semester abroad at the University of Edinburgh. He speaks German and enough French to be able to communicate with the many French Canadians who visit York. “I get such a kick out of being able to communicate with our visitors,” he said.

Timmons is one of eight reserve officers employed this summer to meet the increased demands of a population that swells from 15,000 to an estimated 52,000 during the summer. The application process is rigorous, and includes written and physical tests, as well as accelerated training through the Maine Criminal Justice Academy. Reserve officers have all the powers and duties of permanent officers, but are not permitted to investigate fatal motor vehicle crashes or to engage in high-speed pursuits.

This is not Timmons’ first experience in law enforcement. His internships at Northeastern included stints with the U.S. Marshals Service, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and a previous tour of duty performing clerical work with the York Police Department.

Timmons is licensed and certified in CPR and psychological first aid. Being a first responder is serious business. “It can be a bit disconcerting to be the first to the scene of a medical emergency,” he said, but he’s up for the challenge.

His typical day begins at the Hannaford Drive police station, where he picks up his Glock .22 and bullet-proof vest. Then he’s off to the old police station on Main Street to pick up his bicycle, medical supplies and, he added, “stickers for the kids.” From there he will usually bike to Short Sands and Harbor Beach, check in with the lifeguards, then over to the Wiggly Bridge and the Town Dock. “We are encouraged to vary our route and times,” he added.

A stop at the York Fire Department is often followed by a quick lunch, “but I’m always thinking that I might have to drop that sandwich or energy bar if I get a call,” he said.

“I really enjoy being out and about and talking to the people I meet,” he said, explaining the common thread running through his work. “Some officers really want the action, but I enjoy helping people, connecting with them and being a good face for the community.”

According to York police Chief Charles Szeniawski, “Chris has embraced community policing and the true philosophy of being helpful and professional in the community.”

Szeniawski said he’s had a number of residents tell him what a great job Timmons has done. “He’s engaged with youngsters at the beach, helped folks unfamiliar with the area and defused folks that were upset about getting a parking ticket — not an easy thing.”

Timmons plans to continue to keep York safe after the summer crowds disappear, filling in from time to time for his fellow officers while he decides where the next step on his journey will take him. “I like to make people happy and keep them safe,” he said.