SKOWHEGAN — When Ted Blais took over as police chief at the University of Maine at Farmington in 2005, the department had five officers and no police cruiser.

As Blais leaves UMF this month to become the police chief in Skowhegan, the UMF police department boasts a new police cruiser, five officers, 13 part-time officers, a patrol sergeant and a crew of 35 college students. The students help patrol the campus, escort other students to their dormitories, answer phones and work at dances and concerts as part of the department’s community policing program.

Edward J. Blais, 52, was sworn in as Skowhegan’s police chief Tuesday after a 4-0 vote by selectmen. He begins work June 17 with an annual salary of $60,000, plus benefits.

“Skowhegan has a lot of spirit,” Blais said. “Many of my students that I have had work for me at UMF come from Skowhegan and they’re all great kids. That says a lot for Skowhegan. Being hired here is fantastic.”

Blais said he “just connected” with the hiring board that chose him from a field of 62 applicants for the job. He said the combination of his education and his experience in law enforcement qualified him for the job.

In February, Michael Emmons left the post to become chief of police at VA Maine Healthcare Systems-Togus campus in Augusta. Deputy Chief Dan Summers took over in the interim.

Blais takes over a police department with 13 full-time police officers and one open position in a town of about 9,000 people. UMF has a student population of about 2,000, with about 1,200 living in dormitories.

Skowhegan Town Manager John Doucette Jr., who was a member of the search committee for a new chief, said the group was looking for the best-qualified candidate for the job, and they found him.

“Some of the things that impressed us were his knowledge, his experience, his demeanor — we really feel he’ll be a good fit for Skowhegan,” Doucette said Tuesday. “He’s low profile; he listens, he thinks things over before making a decision. He seems very personable. Everybody we talked to as far as his background checks were very positive about him.”

Blais grew up in Johnston, R.I., and graduated from LaSalle Academy, a Roman Catholic high school for boys, in Providence. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University and a master’s degree in criminal justice from Western New England College in Springfield, Mass.

His first job as a police officer was in Old Orchard Beach in 1985. He joined the Gorham Police Department the same year and remained there for 20 years, making his way up the ranks to become deputy police chief.

Blais said he graduated from the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, also in 1985. He was in the same academy class as Emmons, for whom he takes over this month.

He took the job at UMF in 2005, rebuilding the department almost from scratch, he said.

Blais lives with his wife, Stacey, in Farmington, but he said they plan to move to Skowhegan. The couple have three sons, ages 26, 25 and 16.

There will be a reception for the new chief from 4-6 p.m. Thursday, June 20, at the Town Office council room.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367
[email protected]

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