Waterville police Officer Timothy Hinton searches behind a Waterville apartment building in 2016 for a man who reportedly assaulted another man. Hinton four years later received the Police Department’s Medal of Valor for his actions in apprehending a suspect who had twice wounded Hinton in a flurry of gunfire. The officer retired this week after 25 years in law enforcement. Morning Sentinel file

I want to say something about cops.

They’ve got a damned hard job to do, and one that many don’t get a chance to witness.

They run from accident to bank robbery, domestic dispute to assault, shoplifting complaint to drug overdose.

As we’re sleeping in the wee hours of the morning, police officers are often the first at the scene of someone in cardiac arrest, an unattended death, or a vehicle that has careened off a slippery highway, trapping victims inside.

When they go to work, their families are never sure if they’ll come home alive.

More and more, that possibility is real, as the world has become more violent, illicit drugs are everywhere and people’s behaviors are less and less predictable.


Over my 34 years covering police as part of my job, I’ve seen their job change in myriad ways as gun violence has become more prevalent, drug use and overdoses more frequent, mental health issues growing and domestic violence increasing.

The job is demanding and stressful, yet we deal with officers all the time in central Maine who remain professional, accessible and dedicated to their work, often at the expense of their families.

When I think of officers who stand out, Timothy Hinton comes to mind.

Hinton retired Thursday from the Waterville Police Department after a 25-year career in law enforcement: 10 with the Skowhegan Police Department and his last 15 with Waterville.

Humble but tough when warranted, always amiable and forthcoming, Hinton served the communities well and set an example for younger officers.

In December 2019 he responded to a report of a shoplifter at Walmart in Waterville and was shot in the arm during the traffic stop by a man with an AR-15 style pistol whom he questioned about the theft. A wounded Hinton followed the man in his vehicle to Ohio Hill Road in Fairfield, continued north on U.S. 201 to the Hinckley Bridge, which crosses the Kennebec River to Route 23 in Clinton, and continued on 23 into Canaan, ending at the intersection of Routes 23 and 2 in that town.


Along the way, the suspect stopped his vehicle to ambush Hinton and wounded him a second time, in the other arm. The man was then shot by law enforcement officers from several agencies who had joined the pursuit. He was hospitalized and survived.

For his bravery, Hinton was honored in February 2020 at a Waterville City Council meeting where he was given the Police Department’s Medal of Valor.

Waterville officials, including sergeants, detectives, dispatchers and their families, stood along the walls of the Chace Community Forum in the Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons after arriving in a snowstorm to honor Hinton and two dispatchers who worked the day of the shooting.

Waterville police Chief Joseph Massey said Friday it is difficult to find the words to describe the commitment and sacrifices Hinton has made to help keep the community safe. A man also deeply committed to his family and faith, Hinton kept focused on his job, even after being shot twice, according to Massey.

“He still had the courage and tenacity to continue on and try to apprehend that person until he realized other units would be able to take over. I think he set quite a high bar for all of us when it comes to displaying courage out there when dealing with violent criminals. We’re all so proud of Tim for what he went through and came back from that very traumatic event and was able to maintain his life with his family.”

Massey said he thinks the shooting changed not only Hinton’s life, but also impacted the community and other officers at the department. In police work, he said, one never knows what a slow, routine Sunday winter morning shift can turn into.


As Hinton retires, so does his badge number, per a proclamation signed by both Massey and City Manager Steve Daly.

“In recognition of the courage you displayed on Dec. 22, 2019, where you were seriously wounded during a shootout with an extremely violent suspect and to honor your actions that day, your badge number 532 will be forever retired from active duty.”

Job well done, Officer Hinton. Retirement, well deserved.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 34 years. Her columns appear here Saturdays. She may be reached at acalder@centralmaine.com. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.

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