Chief James Toman of the Gardiner Police Department, photographed recently outside Gardiner City Hall, has announced his retirement after 32 years with the department. Toman, 52, is to begin working in January for the Maine Municipal Association as a loss control consultant to municipalities. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

GARDINER — James Toman, who has worked for the Gardiner Police Department for 32 years — 20 as chief — has announced his retirement.

Toman, 52, made the announcement Dec. 21 to the Gardiner City Council, and posted a message on the department’s Facebook page the following day.

“I think you all know this was an emotional decision for him and to be candid, even though I’ve only been here for six months, it was emotional for me, too,” City Manager Andrew Carlton said at Wednesday’s meeting.

Carlton praised Toman’s professionalism, commitment, knowledge of the city, reputation within the police community and desire to make the Gardiner Police Department the best in the state, and thanked Toman for being a resource to Carlton in his role as city manager.

Toman is to begin working in January for the Maine Municipal Association as a loss control consultant to municipalities, working with department heads, managers and safety committees on policies, procedures and best practices to minimize risk and the potential for employees to be injured at work.

Mayor Patricia Hart said Tuesday that Toman has served the city well, citing his efforts to modernize the Police Department by mentoring new officers, put new safety systems in place and respond to the challenges of heading up a public safety department.


“Over the years, he had been deeply involved with youth in our community, and has served on task forces looking into the importance of early childhood education for the youngest in the state,” Hart said. “He has been a remarkable public servant and friend to many.”

In an interview with the Kennebec Journal, Toman said he is proud of his department’s professional and personal relationships.

“We are a very well-respected law enforcement organization in the state of Maine,” Toman said, “and that is really attributed to the hard work and dedication of my staff. They’re the ones that deserve the credit. They do the hard work. They really make a ton of sacrifices, and their families make a ton of sacrifices.”

Toman said would be remiss were he not to thank those with whom he has worked over his 32 years with the department, including public safety dispatchers and current staff members.

“I just keep my hand on the wheel and keep it steady as she goes,” he said. “They’re really the ones that deserve credit for my success. Them, and my family.”

Of his accomplishments, Toman said he is proudest of the relationship the Gardiner Police Department has with the community. Achieving that, he said, requires being visible in the community, transparency, communication and holding people accountable.


Toman said in his time with the Gardiner Police Department, he has seen changes in the nature of police work, particularly as mental health and addiction recovery programs have undergone cuts, leaving people who no longer have access to those services to fend for themselves. He said the increase in mental health calls to which his department responds is a consequence of the lack of available services.

At its core, Toman said, police work is a customer-service business, and he acknowledged not everyone who has dealings with the department is a happy customer.

“We have a job that holds people accountable when they don’t necessarily want to be accountable,” Toman said. “But it’s customer service, so it’s very simple. To me, if there is a need, we’re going to help you. We’re going to respond. We’re going to offer our assistance. We want to give you the tools that you need in order to get you back on track.”

Toman, who grew up in North Monmouth, was hired in April 1990 as a part-time officer in Gardiner. He became a full-time officer in December 1990, and was promoted to sergeant in 1999 and chief in 2003.

During his time with the department, Toman has implemented a variety of programs, including Good Day Gardiner, where someone at the Police Department checks in every weekday with those enrolled in the program; the ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) program for school safety; and Rape Aggression Defense, which teaches people self-defense tactics and techniques.

Toman’s work has been honored with an Outstanding Service Award from the Healthy Communities of the Capital Area in 2016, and a resolution from the city acknowledging his contributions in saving the life of a 16-year-old girl who had been caught in the undercurrent of the Kennebec River in August 2009.

Toman retired in place in 2015, after 25 years with the department, and was reappointed to his position, while being able to start collecting his pension.

Carlton said city officials are working on a transition plan and he expects to make a public announcement once it is in place.

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