Yarmouth, Freeport officers receive awards

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YARMOUTH — Two police officers in Yarmouth and Freeport were recently recognized by state organizations for their work.

Officer Derek Lucas of the Yarmouth Police Department was honored with a lifesaving award Feb. 3 by the Maine Chiefs of Police Association.

In Freeport, Officer Matthew Moorhouse was given a meritorious service award on Jan. 28 by the Maine Association of Police.

Moorhouse, who was given the award at MAP’s annual awards banquet, couldn’t be reached for comment. He was one of 27 individuals or groups recognized by MAP.

Lucas, 31, was given the lifesaving award at MCOPA’s annual banquet in South Portland after being nominated by his friend, Todd Dort. Dort credited Lucas with saving his life on May 28, 2016, while Lucas was off duty.

Dort, who is from New York, was visiting Maine with his family on Memorial Day weekend and was having a lobster dinner with Lucas at a mutual friend’s home in North Yarmouth. According to Lucas, Dort suddenly got up and left the table to go into another room. 

“When he came back in he was pointing at his throat and I saw that he was choking,” Lucas said. “It was clear he was in distress.”

Lucas said he immediately went to Dort’s aid and gave him the Heimlich maneuver. After eight to 10 thrusts, he said the lobster tail dislodged from Dort’s throat.

“I just saw that he was in a lot of distress and was panicking so I just got up and helped him,” Lucas said. “I hope anyone would have reacted that way.”

There were 24 awards given by MCOPA this year, 21 of which were lifesaving awards. According to Yarmouth Police Chief Michael Morrill, who is a member of MCOPA’s awards committee, two-thirds of the lifesaving awards were given to police officers and one-third were given to citizens.

Morrill said Dort approached him with the nomination for Lucas.

“He firmly believed Derek saved his life and the committee agreed,” Morrill said.

Morrill said even though Lucas was off-duty when the incident occurred, he reacted like a police officer.

“Derek did just what we’d expect any officer to do,” Morrill said. “He reacted how we’d want any officer to.”

Lucas credited his military and police background for providing him with the skills to save Dort. He is also a trained EMT and has taken a lot of CPR training courses. 

Morrill said Lucas’ extensive training put him in the position to help Dort effectively.

“He recognized the seriousness of it,” Morrill said. “He was very in tune with what was going on.”

In Lucas’ four years with the Yarmouth Police Department, Morrill said he’s become known as a caring and helpful person.

“That’s how Derek is,” Morrill said. “He just did what he needed to do to help out.”

Being able to help people is why Lucas said he became a police officer. He said “the sigh of relief” Dort and his family let out was very rewarding.

“I became a police officer because I like being an integrated member of the community,” Lucas said. “I don’t do it for the money. I do it for that look of appreciation when you help someone out.”

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

Yarmouth Police Officer Derek Lucas, center, received a lifesaving award Feb. 3 from the Maine Chiefs of Police Association for saving the life of Todd Dort, left. Yarmouth Police Chief Michael Morrill, right, is a member of the awards committee.

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I’m a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I’m from a small town in NH no one’s ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.