Here’s Something: Law enforcers should obey the law

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Shame on former Maine State Police Trooper Jeffrey Linscott, 51, of Buxton.

Linscott is charged with trafficking in fentanyl and heroin. Fentanyl is a powerful opioid and just a tiny bit of it can kill. Linscott was arrested Dec. 20 in Gorham, where he allegedly sold the drugs to an undercover agent.

It’s bad enough to hear constantly about the opiate epidemic, but to read that a retired cop – one living on our dime by way of the state retirement system – is a trafficker of this poison is unbelievable.

Linscott was a 22-year veteran of the state police, but he also spent time serving in the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, according to news reports. And his arrest has shocked and saddened former fellow officers both at MDEA and with Linscott’s former state police troop, based in Alfred.

“He has turned into a huge embarrassment for the state police,” said Michael Edes, who once led a state police union in Maine and knew Linscott in that capacity. “For something like this to give us a black eye has made all of us upset.”

It’s rare to hear state troopers criticize their own – and Edes’ words, full of embarrassment, speak volumes.

Reports quote Edes as saying Linscott was financially secure, married and that “there was no indication that anything was wrong.”

At 51, Linscott was young enough to enjoy his retirement. Instead, he was allegedly dealing drugs.

So, what makes someone with two decades in law enforcement tracking down the bad guys turn into a social pariah? Who knows. If we had that answer, the war on drugs would be halfway won.

What I do know is that 51 is too young to be retired. Obviously not every state worker who retires young gets into trouble with the law, but the natural state of man is to need work to stay away from trouble. Trouble can take many forms, but work is a good way of passing time in a productive, useful and hopefully enjoyable way. Sitting around and doing nothing isn’t good for the psyche.

According to the reports, Linscott actually retired in 2010, using time served in the military. That would have made him about 43 or 44 when he retired. That’s way too young.

Maybe we should rethink our state retirement system so people can’t retire at such a young age? I’m sure many would say 25 years is more than enough time to serve in such a demanding profession as law enforcement, but I’ll disagree. Maybe older workers can’t be on the front lines, but they can still put their wisdom and knowledge to use in some less-demanding capacity.

Speaking of state workers, I saw a Maine Department of Transportation vehicle drive by me the other day on Route 295 in Freeport with a half a foot of snow on its roof. I thought it was against the law to drive with built-up snow and ice? I thought we were supposed to scrape off every tiny bit of white stuff from every nook and cranny?

It’s true that a relatively new law requires Mainers to rid our vehicles of snow, but maybe state workers feel they are exempt? It may be that the driver didn’t have a scraper handy, but MDOT workers should be prepared for snow. And they should be setting a better example than that.

Just a day earlier, I witnessed a state trooper fail to use his turn signal while leaving the Kittery rest area on Route 95. And he (I assume it was a male trooper because a female officer would have better sense) failed to signal his entrance into what was a fair amount of traffic whizzing by. Then, not a minute later, I saw him pass a vehicle in the breakdown lane with its hazard lights blinking. I thought for sure he’d stop and check on the driver. But no. He blew right by. So much for “protect and serve.”

But I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. This happened on Christmas and the trooper was probably angry about working. And, the next day, maybe the MDOT staffer was still upset with what Santa brought him.

Still, these infractions – some major and some minor – leave impressions in the minds of those who quietly witness and remember them. Simply put, the people who enforce the law always should heed it, too.

John Balentine, a former managing editor for Sun Media Group, lives in Windham.