Glenn Moshier named Ellsworth’s new police chief

ELLSWORTH — Glenn Moshier, who has led the city’s police department since the end of December, has now been named its permanent chief.

City Manager David Cole made the announcement Tuesday afternoon, praising Moshier’s service and his “great ideas and enthusiasm for taking the department forward.”

The appointment is subject to approval by the City Council at a special meeting set for the morning of Friday, Feb. 24. A swearing-in ceremony has been tentatively scheduled for 10 a.m. that day.

Although his appointment now awaits that formal council approval — Cole noted the city charter requires councilors OK all department head appointments — several councilors worked with Cole leading up to Moshier’s selection for the chief’s job.

City Council Chairman John Phillips named a three-councilor committee (Steve Beathem and Dawn Hudson, in addition to himself) to work with Cole on looking at choices for leadership at the Police Department.

“We talked about the options,” Cole said. “In the end, we felt that Glenn was a well-qualified candidate.”

Cole said it is “always good to promote from within when you can,” and that the city was taking advantage of the opportunity to do so in this case.

Moshier is a 13-year veteran of the Ellsworth force. He was promoted to sergeant in 2008 and then to captain in 2016, and has been named the department’s Officer of the Year on three occasions.

As captain, Moshier served as acting chief in the immediate aftermath of former chief Pete Bickmore’s departure in late December. Bickmore resigned after less than a year on the job. In early January, the council voted to name Moshier interim chief.

Moshier, for his part, said Tuesday afternoon that he is “extremely excited and honored to have been selected” as the new chief. He said his first goal is to “really focus internally” on the department and to “build a command staff that’s competent and all on the same page.”

“We can then, in turn, lead the department in a positive and forward-thinking direction,” Moshier said.

Moshier said bringing a sense of stability to the department is a high priority for him also. In the past three years, the department has now had five different leaders — as many has it had in the 62 years before that.

Moshier said he is grateful for the support of city officials and the City Council in the aftermath of Bickmore’s departure. He said members of the department also have stepped up to do additional work and take on other responsibilities in this time of transition, which he is grateful for.

He also is grateful for their support, which department members voiced in a two-page letter to the City Council in early January. In it, they urged councilors to promote Moshier to chief “and let him begin to establish the stability and respect the City of Ellsworth has come to expect out of its Police Department.”

The letter was signed by a total of 23 officers and dispatchers. They said Moshier “brings knowledge of the department, leadership that is trusted and recognized due to his years of service and respect of the officers of the Ellsworth Police Department.”

The officers and dispatchers, in their letter, said they were concerned about the status of the department given that two chiefs — Chris Coleman and Bickmore — had come and gone since former chief John DeLeo retired in early 2014 Two temporary leaders also had served during that time.

“In a time where this department has seen chiefs come and go, this department needs to return to its roots, it needs to return to its familiarity for stability and support,” department members wrote. “It needs to return to a backbone of leadership from within the department. Captain Moshier is seen as that backbone of stability.”

Moshier, for his part, said he was “speechless” and humbled when he learned of department members’ intentions to express their support for him. He said he has worked hard to earn the trust and respect of his colleagues, and said he hopes that if he is chief 10 years from now that “they’re still willing to write that letter and sign their name in support of me.”

Moshier said another thing he will focus on is recruitment, as the department will have “a lot of recruiting to do in the upcoming years.” Several members of the department have worked there for more than 30 years. In their letter, Moshier’s colleagues noted that he has been in charge of recruitment and hiring and they said he has done a good job.

“Recruitment, hiring and training are the important tasks facing us in the near future,” Moshier said. “That will shape our department for the future.”

Important tasks immediately awaiting Moshier as he assumes the title of chief include dealing with a department contract and planning a budget for the department. He said his goal, as soon as possible, is to get out of the office when he can and be visible in the community and work with his officers in the field.

“That’s what’s worked for me in the past,” he said, noting that he does not ask anything of anyone who works for him that he would not do himself.

Cole said his observation is that in the weeks that Moshier has been running the department since Bickmore’s departure, things have “been going very smoothly.”

Though historical trends are no guarantee of future performance, the records suggest that things run more smoothly when someone who has served in the department is selected to lead it rather than an outsider.

The first man to officially have the title of Ellsworth’s chief of police was William Madak, who was appointed to that post in March of 1952. Prior to that point, the city’s top law enforcement official held the title of city marshal.

Madak worked as an officer under A. W. Garland, the last man to serve as city marshal, and then went on to serve as chief for almost 12 years. He was succeeded by Reginald McDevitt, who was appointed chief after Madak was suspended (the reason for Madak’s suspension was not immediately clear in a search of the American’s archives).

McDevitt, who according to his obituary (he died in 2011) was well-known as “The Man in Black” due to his choice in uniform, was one of 11 applicants for the job in 1964. He had worked as an officer in Ellsworth for two years prior to that.

McDevitt served for 11 years until March 1975, when the City Council failed to reappoint him. Albert Carter, an officer in the department at that time, served as acting chief until Joseph McCarthy was hired as chief the following month.

McCarthy, a 20-year veteran of the Maine State Police, stayed in Ellsworth 17 months. When he quit, the American reported, he was “not resigning because of any crisis, corruption, scandal or call for his resignation, but because he wants ‘to try something else.’”

McCarthy said at the time he “really want[ed] to see how other people live,” which the paper noted was “an obvious reference to his years as being a police officer and wearing a uniform.” McCarthy’s salary at the time of his departure was $10,500 a year.

Carter returned, initially as acting chief and then as permanent chief. His tenure is still the longest on record, as he led the department for more than 21 years.

When Carter retired in 1997, he was succeeded by John DeLeo. DeLeo’s starting salary was $40,000, according to an article in the American. DeLeo joined the department the same year McCarthy left and Carter took over, and when he took over for Carter he went on to lead the department for more than 16 years, stepping down in the spring of 2014.

Lt. Harold Page led the department as acting chief for six months until Chris Coleman, another state police veteran, came on board as chief in October of 2014.

When Coleman announced his intent the following fall to step down from the job, he echoed what McCarthy had said four decades earlier: that being police chief in Ellsworth was not different enough from working in the state police, and that he wanted to “try something different than law enforcement.”

When Coleman got done in February of 2014, former Old Town Police Chief Don O’Halloran was brought on board as interim chief. He stayed until Bickmore was hired and sworn-in in April of 2016. Bickmore’s starting salary was $80,000.

Steve Fuller

Steve Fuller

Reporter at The Ellsworth American,
Steve Fuller has worked at The Ellsworth American since 2012. He covers the city of Ellsworth, including the Ellsworth School Department and the city police beat, as well as the towns of Amherst, Aurora, Eastbrook, Great Pond, Mariaville, Osborn, Otis and Waltham. A native of Waldo County, he served as editor of Belfast's Republican Journal prior to joining the American. He lives in Orland. [email protected]