AUGUSTA — A woman’s terrible day had culminated in a thud in the road, a dead beaver and worries over a damaged car. Augusta Police Officer Lindell Cox had checked on the beaver, or at least the mangled remains, when he was confronted by the distraught driver.
“She said, ‘I’ve had such a rotten day, you don’t even know,'” Cox recalled. “I said, ‘Not as bad as the beaver.’ She couldn’t help but laugh.”
Cox leaned back in his chair and smiled at the memory. After 25 years of patrolling the city, Cox says he’ll most miss the unique opportunities to make a positive impact. His final shift and retirement party was Wednesday.
“When you can do that with just a few words, that’s a great feeling,” Cox said, recalling the woman’s tears turning to laughter. “You’ve made the difference.”
Cox, 47, has been a police officer more than half of his life. His first job was a part-time assignment with the Waldoboro Police Department when he was 19. He took a full-time job with Augusta police three years later.
“The best part of the job is when you can help somebody and they genuinely appreciate the help,” Cox said.
Thus, the calls Cox will always remember are the ones where he has felt particularly helpful. Like that night in March of 2009 when he and three other officers arrived before the fire department for a report of a fire tearing through a five-unit apartment building on Chapel Street.
“We started breaking down doors and taking people out,” Cox said. Augusta Police Officers Jeremy Day, Chris Blodgett and Nikolas Hample joined Cox in the effort.
One man was forced to jump from his second-floor apartment and was caught by police officers. Police ran into the building to help two others, including a woman with a handicap who was unable to escape and a man who was sound asleep.
All four officers were treated for smoke inhalation.
“This was at night,” said Augusta Police Chief Robert Gregoire. “A lot of people were sleeping.”
Cox did almost all of his work while others slept. He spent 19 of his 25 working years on the night shift. He tried working days, Gregoire said, but Cox preferred the pace of the night. He spent his career patrolling streets, passing over opportunities to work in other divisions within the police department.
“He’s always liked that aspect of the job,” Gregoire said. “I don’t think he ever wanted to do anything else.”
Cox has provided an experienced calm at night, shifts that tend to collect newer officers full of youthful enthusiasm.
“He’s that guy you like to have on a night shift,” Gregoire said. “He’s got that quiet patience. We’re going to miss that.”
Gregoire joined the department a year after Cox, and even then Cox was one of the officers Gregoire knew he could turn to for advice.
Cox learned how keep the pressures of his job from having an impact on his personal life, said City Manager William Bridgeo. Cox’s career was marked by a dedicated professionalism and a reputation as a nice person, Bridgeo said.
“Lindell is a great example of someone who found that balance in life,” Bridgeo said.
Cox plans to move to Texas to be near his brother and sister-in-law. Shortly after that, all three plan to move to Tennessee. Cox’s son, Addison, completed basic training for the Marine Corps in March. Cox, who has two sisters, one in Maine and another in New York, has never lived outside of Maine.
“Right now everything is so foreign to me,” he said. “At this point I don’t see myself doing anything law enforcement-wise. I want to something different. It’s the only thing I’ve known for a long time, but I’m looking forward to a new adventure.”
Craig Crosby — 621-5642
As Lindell Cox ends a 25-year career with the Augusta Police Department, two new officers were introduced during Cox’s retirement party on Wednesday. They are:
* Laura Drouin, 20, joined the department May 14 after an eight month internship. She graduated from the University of Maine at Fort Kent with a bachelor’s degree in public safety and an associate degree in criminal justice. Drouin’s husband, Anthony Drouin, joined the Augusta Police department last year. Laura Drouin will begin 18 weeks of training at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in Vassalboro in January.
* Autumn Clifford, 22, joined the department April 2 after working part-time for the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office doing court security and transportation. Clifford graduated from Thomas College with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a minor in psychology. Clifford will begin training at the academy in August.