AUGUSTA — Maine State Police troopers from across the region gathered Tuesday for an official inspection by their commanding officer.

Dozens of troopers and their cruisers lined up outside the State House for inspection by Col. Robert Williams, chief of the state police. The inspection involved men and women serving Skowhegan-based Troop C and Augusta-based Troop D. Troops from the Augusta-based headquarters and commercial vehicles unit also were given the once-over.

“It gives the command staff an opportunity to meet all the troopers,” said Lt. Aaron Hayden, who commands Troop D.

Troopers from all 12 barracks across the state will be inspected this week. The first inspection took place Monday in Bangor, and the final is set for Thursday in Portland. Williams said it is the first time in at least two decades that commanders have organized multi-troop inspections. The reviews typically occur one troop at a time.

Williams said this week’s division inspections were organized in part to help troopers from various troops to get to know one another. 

“If we have a large-scale event, it’s going to take more than one troop,” Williams said. The joint inspections help ensure that the faces showing up to respond to that event will at least be familiar.

Williams said organizing the division inspections, which includes working with other law enforcement agencies to provide coverage, is a challenge but has significant benefits. He said the command staff is waiting for feedback from individual troops before deciding whether to plan future division inspections.

Whether they occur in individual troops or an entire division, the yearly inspections focus on the troopers’ uniforms, cruisers and equipment. The troopers themselves wore well-pressed uniforms and brimmed hats worn low on the brow. The blue cars and sport utility vehicles, including freshly washed tires, sparkled in the bright sunlight. The cruisers’ trunks were neatly organized with equipment the troopers need to do their jobs. Williams said a troop has never failed an inspection.

“Troopers have too much pride in themselves and their agencies to let us down,” he said. “They take great pride in getting ready for these things.”

After the inspection, Williams gathered the troopers around him on the State House steps and thanked the men and women for their effort in the past year and outlined the agency’s vision for the upcoming year.

“They’re proud to stand in front of the colonel and get a few minutes of his time,” Hayden said.

If the division inspection gave current troopers a chance to know their counterparts in other troops, it afforded a similar opportunity to retired troopers to check in on those who are now filling their shoes.

“I’ve talked to just about everyone that’s here,” said Conrad McNaughton, who retired in 1996 after 23 years of service, 20 of which were spent with the criminal investigation unit.

McNaughton, whose son, Adam McNaughton, now serves in Troop D, pointed to a nearby cruiser bearing the license plate number 63. Conrad McNaughton said he has a similar plate he keeps in his basement.

“I have a special place in my heart for the state police,” he said.

Craig Crosby — 621-5642
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