DEERFIELD — After roughly six months of searching, Deerfield selectmen reached out of state to handpick their new police chief.
They found Gary Duquette in Orono, Maine, home of the University of Maine, where he served on the police force for 20 years, the last seven as chief.
“I felt I had accomplished a lot there and I was looking for the next phase of my career,” he said. “I knew I certainly wasn’t ready to retire and I really like being a police chief, so I thought a small town would present some new challenges and opportunities.”
Duquette, who was sworn in on Monday, joins a department comprised of six other full-time officers and four part-timers.
Deerfield’s former police chief, Michael Greeley, retired in December, and selectmen are set to introduce his replacement to the Deerfield public at their June 30 meeting at the town office building. Duquette was chosen from a pool of more than 50 candidates who applied for the position in a search facilitated by Public Safety Strategies Group, a law enforcement consulting firm.
“He was the most qualified candidate to meet our needs here in Deerfield,” said Town Administrator Michael Wright. “We’re a small and highly-interactive community of about 4,000 people, and you really have to have the right personality to fit into that type of environment.”
Duquette began as a part-time police officer in the small town of Winslow. A year later, he accepted a full-time position as a patrol officer in Orono and worked his way up the ranks. In that time, he served as a certified instructor at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, attended the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va., and received many accolades and certifications, including leading his department to national accreditation.
He said he’s spent many of his off days over the years riding his motorcycle throughout the Northeast, often passing through small towns across New Hampshire on his way to and from the Vacation State.
Still, he admitted there’s sure to be an adjustment period.
“The University of Maine has its own police department, which dealt with campus itself, and the Orono Police Department dealt with anything off-campus, so for us it was kind of a mix between small town police work and obviously dealing with a lot of your typical alcohol-fueled drunk-and-disorderly calls, assault, things of that nature,” said Duquette. “I was looking for somewhere a little different, not necessarily out of New England, but somewhere that would not only be a good fit for me, but that I’d be good for, and I thought Deerfield was one of those towns.”