Ellsworth native Jeff Turcotte receives the 2016 Maine Lobstermen’s Association Maine Patrol Officer of the Year Award. Pictured with MPO Turcotte, who patrols out of Southwest Harbor, are MLA Board President David Cousens, MLA Executive Director Patrice McCarron and Marine Patrol Colonel Jon Cornish (right). MARK HASKELL PHOTOGRAPHY

Turcotte named patrol officer of the year

ROCKPORT — Local boy makes good may be an old, old story, but it is still a good one.

On March 5, at the Fishermen’s Forum in Rockport, the Maine Lobstermen’s Association named Ellsworth resident Jeff Turcotte its Marine Patrol Officer of the Year. The award serves as annual recognition of Marine Patrol officers who provide outstanding service in support of the Maine lobster industry.

Last week, Turcotte said the award recognized the work of all of the officers in the Marine Patrol’s Division II, which covers state waters between the St. George River and the Canadian border.

“We don’t make a lot of cases in this area without each other,” Turcotte said. “The award was for what we do up here on a regular basis. It could have gone to any one of those guys.”

Although he didn’t grow up in Ellsworth, if Turcotte’s name sounds familiar, it should. His father, Jack Turcotte, was twice Ellsworth’s school superintendent, the startup administrator of the Ellsworth School Department after city voters opted to withdraw from Regional School Unit 24 and, in the distant past, superintendent of the old Union 92. Turcotte’s grandmother, Yvonne Turcotte, worked for many years as a water aerobics exercise instructor at the Maine Racquet and Fitness Club in Trenton and later at the James Russell Wiggins YMCA in Ellsworth.

That history and his “love for the area” are a big part of what led him eventually to join the Marine Patrol a few years after graduating from Unity College with a degree in conservation law enforcement.

“My grandmother had it. My father had it, and I have it,” Turcotte said. “We certainly love it here.”

Turcotte followed a circuitous route to the Marine Patrol. After four years as a Hancock County deputy sheriff, he joined the U.S. Border Patrol and was sent to Arizona.

“That didn’t work out,” Turcotte said.

He returned to Maine and worked as an officer for the Milbridge and Southwest Harbor police departments before he was persuaded to take “the best law enforcement job in the state of Maine” and join the Marine Patrol in 2012.

“I knew Rustin Ames and Colin MacDonald,” both in the Marine Patrol, “and they talked me into it,” Turcotte said. “We don’t do a great job of recruiting.”

Turcotte’s first assignment took him to Scarborough in southern Maine for two years, while his wife stayed in Ellsworth. The separation gave him “a lot of respect for the military,” but wasn’t much fun. In 2014, he returned to Ellsworth and was assigned to the Southwest Harbor patrol.

“What I really like,” Turcotte said, is “the relationships we have with the fishermen. We pride ourselves on developing good relations and trust with these guys.”

Although there is no question that his work sometimes entails dealing with lawbreakers — this past year he was instrumental in the arrest of a Swan’s Island fisherman for a variety of serious scallop conservation law violations — that is the exception.

“Most of these fishermen are good, hardworking guys who want to do what’s best for their fishery,” Turcotte said.

Stephen Rappaport

Stephen Rappaport

Waterfront Editor at The Ellsworth American
Stephen Rappaport has lived in Maine for nearly 30 years. A lifelong sailor, he spends as much time as possible messing about in boats. [email protected]

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