FALMOUTH — New officers and dispatchers are joining the ranks of the Police Department.
“I’m really enjoying learning the town and meeting people,” said Jeff Pardue, who will begin his 18-week training at the Maine Justice Academy in August.
Pardue, who is from Kennebunk, and Luke Hallett, who grew up in Falmouth, are shadowing officers on their shifts, helping out and observing what it’s like to be a police officer.
“We’re getting a pretty good idea of what it’s like,” Hallett said. “I’m really glad I didn’t have to wait until August to get some hands-on experience. I’d rather be working.”
Hallett, who served two tours in Iraq with the U.S. Marine Corps, said the wildest thing he has seen so far working in Falmouth was when a car drove past his cruiser at 102 mph.
Ken Walberg, the new assistant harbormaster, has seen a few wild things, too. Walberg retired in June from the U.S. Coast Guard after more than 30 years of service. Most recently he was the chief in charge of the South Portland Coast Guard station. Before that, he served at stations in New Jersey, New York and Ohio.
Walberg’s boat was in New York harbor on September 11, 2001, when the planes crashed into the World Trade Center.
“I was on a boat beside the Trade Center when the second plane hit,” he said. “It flew right over our heads.”
Walberg said there was very little they could do beyond maintain order in the harbor.
While his experience in the Coast Guard has been varied and exciting, he said he is looking forward to a more relaxed job in Falmouth. He was glad he did not to have to be out on the harbor for the Fourth of July and instead could stay on land and enjoy the fireworks.
“I’ve been in the water every Fourth of July for 37 years,” Walberg said.
Officer Steven Stubbs comes to Falmouth from Windham, where he’s been an officer for a year and a half. Before that, he served in Old Orchard Beach as a reserve officer.
“This is something I’ve always wanted to do,” he said. “Ever since I was a little boy.”
Stubbs said he really enjoys the people in Falmouth – the other officers in the department and the people around town.
“More people wave to you here,” he said. “The community is very friendly toward you.”
Dispatchers Lee Ruby and Deborah Frye come to Falmouth from Yarmouth, where they both were working before the towns consolidated dispatch services.
Ruby, who lives in Cumberland, said he really enjoys his job.
“Everything is always changing,” he said. “Every day is different.”
Frye has been a dispatcher for 30 years and said she has seen and heard her fair share of interesting people and events.
“I love it,” she said. “I like the public relations part of it.”
Over the years, Frye said, dispatch in the area has become busier and there’s not as much time to do some of the more personal things, like calling an officer to go help someone cross the street.
Lt. John Kilbride said the process of hiring new recruits and getting them trained takes approximately a year, including the interviews, psychological exams, polygraph tests and the 18-week academy.
He expects the two officers in training will hit the streets on their own in February 2011.
“This is a great turning point for the department,” Kilbride said. “We’ve got some people with lots of experience, and some youth as well.”
Police Chief Edward Tolan said he was thrilled to have so many new people coming on board, even though those who are retiring will certainly be missed.
“This is great for the department,” he said. “I’m a fortunate chief to have such a great group of people.”
Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or email@example.com
The six new faces of the Falmouth Police Department: Assistant Harbormaster Ken Walberg, left, Officer Steven Stubbs, Officers-in-Training Jeff Pardue and Luke Hallett, and Dispatchers Lee Ruby and Deborah Frye.