SKOWHEGAN — Veteran Skowhegan police officer Joel Cummings was sworn in Tuesday night as the town’s new deputy police chief.

Cummings, 54, most recently a sergeant with the department, will take over the day-to-day operations of the patrol division under Chief David Bucknam, who took over in July. The Police Department hired Bucknam in March. He is a former Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office detective who worked some high-profile cases, including former Chelsea Selectwoman Carole Swan’s extortion case, gross sexual assault cases and armed robbery cases.

Cummings had been interim police chief, having been appointed to the position in March by the Board of Selectmen to fill the role vacated by Chief Donald Bolduc, who resigned to move home to Millinocket. Bolduc had left his job as chief of police in Millinocket to take a job as a patrol officer in Skowhegan in 2013. In August 2013, he became deputy chief when Dan Summers left to become chief in Lincoln, making him the last deputy police chief before Tuesday night’s appointment of Cummings.

“He’s going to be running the patrol division. He’ll be overseeing the daily operations of the patrol,” Bucknam said Tuesday before the regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen. “During the day he’ll be here and will be on call at night if needed.”

The Police Department is operating nearly at capacity, with 15 officers, including the chief and deputy chief. The department will be at 16 men and women, considered a full compliment, by December.

Cummings, who was a military policeman in the Army right after graduating in 1983 from Carrabec High School, has been a Skowhegan police officer since 1989. Cummings, married to wife Michelle, has two sons and two stepchildren. He grew up on West Mills Road in Anson.

“Joel was selected for the position because of his tenure, but also because he had been doing the job, basically, as the senior sergeant when Don Bolduc was the chief here,” Bucknam said. “That experience alone was able to put him in a category where he was ultimately selected for the position.”

The five-member hiring committee consisted of one selectman, the town manager, the human resources director and two Maine law enforcement officers.

Cummings said he is ready to tackle the duties of deputy chief.

“I’m looking forward to have the position formalized. I’ve been working the position for a year and a half,” he said before the Board of Selectmen’s unanimous 5-0 vote to approve the appointment Tuesday night. “I did the stint of interim chief for five and half months and I just wanted to be available to serve the Police Department.”

Cummings said he now has a police chief in Bucknam whose lead he can follow in being community-oriented and has good plans in the works.

“I’ll be there to help support those ideas, sell those ideas, implement those ideas; and it’s good to have a good, solid direction now with the chief,” he said.

Bucknam said the department is settling in with a new direction under new leadership, conducting unannounced foot patrols and traffic and speeding details.

“Things are going great. We’re starting to push forward in another direction that I’ve been striving to get us going in, with community policing,” he said. “We’re trying to involve the public — the community — more into our daily operations.”

He said officers are checking properties after hours, making sure doors are locked and businesses are secured. He said with regular contact with business owners, people are more likely to approach police with issues they think are important.

“The closer relationship we have with the community, the better information that we’ll be able to get from them,” Bucknam said. “With the new structure of the Police Department, I felt that position of deputy chief was needed.”

Bucknam said Cummings’ duties will include monitoring daily operations of the officers and their ongoing cases, dealing with the public, scheduling shifts and keeping track of training and equipment and overtime budgets.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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