Laura Edstrom has been named the state police's first female Trooper of the Year since the honor was created in 1964. Credit: Courtesy of Maine State Police

A veteran Maine State Police detective has been named the agency’s first female Trooper of the Year.

Lauren Edstrom, a detective from Biddeford and an expert in child death investigations, was honored at a ceremony in Vallasboro Tuesday. It marked the first time in 54 years the state police selected a woman to receive the agency’s highest award, which has been given annually since 1964, said Stephen McCausland, a spokesman for the Maine State Police.

“Detective Edstrom is a seasoned investigator who has been involved in some of the toughest and heartbreaking death investigations in recent years, several involving children,” said Col. John Cote, chief of the Maine State Police.

Edstrom joined the state police in 1997, and patrolled York County for 15 years, McCausland said.

She was promoted to detective in 2012. She investigates homicides, suspicious deaths and major crimes that occur in Cumberland and York Counties, two of the state’s most populous regions.

Edstrom’s experience working cases involving children has made her one of Maine’s foremost experts on child deaths, McCausland said. She serves on the state’s child death review board, which assesses how the state responds to child deaths.

Over the course of her 21-year career with the state police, the detective has specialized a varied range of police work. Edstrom has been trained as a drug recognition expert, bomb dog handler, is a former crisis negotiator and currently serves as a member of the evidence recovery team, McCausland said.

She was one of several troopers honored at Tuesday’s ceremony, when the state police doled out its annual awards recognizing outstanding acts of service and bravery.

Brewer resident Michael Vittum received the highest honor bestowed to a retired officer.

Vittum, who on Tuesday was named “legendary trooper” and is a former Trooper of the Year, retired from the state police in 1986 after 20 years with the agency. In 1964, he became a trooper in the Bangor and Millinocket areas, and spent the latter half of his career working drug cases, McCausland said.

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Callie Ferguson is an investigative reporter for the Bangor Daily News. She writes about criminal justice, police and housing.