BANGOR, Maine — The former public spokesman for the Bangor Police Department and the founder of its popular Facebook page is retiring at the end of the month after nearly 28 years on the force.
Lt. Paul Edwards, who just turned 50, will put on his uniform and gun for the last time on April 30, he recently confirmed. He gave up the spokesman post after four years when promoted to lieutenant in August 2013 but continued to fill in when needed. His outgoing personality and sense of humor led to his being a frequent guest on local talk radio and television stations, where he offered insight on police work and crime trends.
“At the end of the day, I want to go out on top. I’ve done that. I don’t believe I would accomplish anything more. I’ve done all I can do,” Edwards said recently, when asked about his reasons for stepping down.
Edwards was raised on the east side of Bangor, attended Bangor schools and continues to live in the city. He spent his entire career with the Bangor Police Department.
“I do feel it’s far and above the best department in the state,” Edwards said of his workplace.
Bangor police Chief Mark Hathaway offered similar words of praise for Edwards.
“Paul’s approach to police work has certainly been unique and unconventional,” Hathaway stated in an email. “His success is his own and not something anyone can or should copy. His style is exclusive and his willingness to help is unmatched. Paul will be remembered as one of the best known and most popular police officers to ever work for the Bangor Police Department.”
Edwards worked in the shipping department at Bean & Conquest Chevrolet before he was hired to patrol the streets of Bangor in August 1987. He earned the rank of detective in 1998, two years later became an evidence technician and is one of the founding members of Bangor’s Evidence Response Team, the squad in charge of crime scene investigations. For several years, he was the department’s blood spatter expert.
Edwards worked to change how law enforcement interacts with people with mental illness and those who are homeless or otherwise without services, according to Hathaway.
“He has worked tirelessly to bridge gaps between law enforcement and social service agencies that ultimately opened doors, allowing for collaborations between police officers and social workers that remain strong today,” Hathaway stated.
Edwards also served as a School Resource Officer for Bangor and was a founding member of the department’s Crisis Intervention Team, which is a group of officers specially trained to work with people with mental illness. Edwards earned the rank of sergeant in March 2004 and was a patrol supervisor.
Shortly after he became the department’s spokesman, Edwards set up the Bangor Police Department’s Facebook page, which went online in December 2009.
“I think people always wanted to get involved,” he said of the social media site that has nearly 50,000 “likes.” “And we needed that relationship between media and police. We’re the ones who need the public’s help.”
The Facebook page provides people a glimpse of the “human side” of local officers, Edwards said.
“We are humans, and we fall out of trucks,” he said, referring to a video posted March 20 of Officer Steve Pelletier ungracefully exiting a truck.
Edwards leaves as head of Bangor’s Support Services Division where he oversaw communications, the training unit, court services, parking enforcement, building maintenance, the Bangor International Airport police detachment, community relations unit, media services and the department’s Special Enforcement Team.
Asked what he’ll do in his retirement, Edwards said he has no answer. After taking the summer off, he hopes to find something that will “reinvigorate” him.
“There really is no plan” Edwards said. “People have offered me jobs. I don’t want a job.”
The one thing he does know about the future is that he is giving up his gun. Edwards added that after living with a weapon for nearly three decades, he is just ready to let that responsibility go.
“I will never carry a gun for a job for as long as I live,” he said. “I’m done. I’ve been doing this (nearly) 28 years, and I just reached the end. I want to come and go as I please … and when I’m done, I’m done. I don’t want any deadlines.
“A friend of mine owns G & M Variety (in Holden), so you may see me out there sweeping the parking lot,” Edwards added later. “You want a pound of bologna? I can do that.”