FARMINGTON — You could say it’s in their blood.

Ken Charles, 42, and his brother Steve, 41, who were each recently promoted to detective in the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department, are the sons of a retired Waterville detective.

“I remember being picked up from school in a police car and baby-sat by officers,” Steve Charles said.

They described the career as more of a lifestyle than a job.

Steve said the commitment to the county residents requires that their lives outside of work to revolve around their jobs.

Anyone who works in law enforcement is expected to work long shifts and 50- or 60-hour weeks, even if it means missing a child’s game while investigating a crime or conducting interviews.

When they are off the clock, he said the community watches them and holds them to higher standards.

“It’s not for everybody, but it’s a very rewarding job,” Steve said.

Ken said their father, Malcolm Charles, never told them to go into law enforcement, and they were encouraged to find their own interests. Still, family history was definitely a contributing factor for their career choice.

“It’s something a little more than a coincidence,” said Ken.

Their oldest brother, Eric Charles, is also in law enforcement. He is a lieutenant in the Roanoke, Va., police department.

The brothers also have two sisters, Jean Soper and Karen Lane, but neither is in law enforcement.

After college, neither brother began law enforcement careers.

They both graduated from the University of Maine at Farmington, after which Steve Charles became a dispatcher for Sugarloaf Ski Area and later worked on security force there before becoming a deputy in 2002.

He decided he wanted to be a deputy that year after he was the first one on scene at a fatal car accident near the ski area. He said he saw Lt. David St. Laurent and Sgt. Steven Lowell respond to the accident and was impressed by how they handled it.

“I got to see what a difference they made on scene,” he said.

Ken Charles first worked in hospital administration, including six years at Franklin Memorial Hospital where he became director of medical information.

While his job was a good experience, in 2002 he became interested in switching careers and there was an open position at the sheriff’s department, which he successfully applied for.

The new career required a high level of professionalism and emotional maturity to deal with the strain, he said. The most difficult aspect of the job is letting a family know about a death, something that never gets any easier.

“We’re dealing with people on the worst days of their lives,” he said.

He said he knows the job is worthwhile when he can demonstrate the sheriff’s department is interested in and able to keep the public safe.

The department once got a call from an elderly woman living alone on a isolated farm who said she was scared because the windows had been shot out of her car and some of her chickens had been shot.

Ken said he found some kids nearby with a BB gun who had been shooting.

“It felt good to be able to come to her with the kids in one hand, the BB gun in another and let her know she could feel safe,” he said.

One of the advantages of working at a small department, they both agreed, is that deputies have the freedom and authority to investigate cases even early in their careers. That gave them the chance to develop the investigation skills needed to become detectives.

“When they see you have an interest and the ability, they’ll nurture it,” he said.

The opportunity for the promotion arose when the two detective positions were vacated last month by the retirement of Detective Tom White and promotion of Lt. David St. Laurent. The brothers each were patrol supervisors of two different shifts before their promotions.

The two brothers were interviewed by a board of sheriff’s department staff and were asked to describe what they would do in potential investigation scenarios.

Ken and Steve said they were not sure if any of their children have an interest following in their law enforcement careers.

“I’d be proud, but I wouldn’t wish it on them,” Steve said.

Ken Charles lives in Farmington with his wife, Anne, and their two children. Steve Charles lives in Phillips with his wife, Christi, with their three children.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252
[email protected]

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