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Guest Column: Reflections of 2020 in The Rear View Mirror

In a few more months, I will have been working out of DMR’s Augusta Office (more affectionately referred to as “the bait shed”) for two years and I wonder where the time has gone? When I look back over the course of the last year in particular, I am very proud of our agency and how Marine Patrol has adapted and overcome the many challenges 2020 presented us. I am extremely fortunate to work with a group of true professionals who care a great deal about marine resources, sustainable fisheries, and the success of our Bureau. It is no secret that officer recruitment and retention have and continue to be a few of Marine Patrol’s biggest challenges. The Bureau currently has an open application process in an effort to begin filling eight vacant officer positions along the State’s vast coastline. Most of our vacant positions are in the Eastern Maine region. It is critically important to both our service model and our operational readiness that we prioritize the hiring and training of new officers. Interested candidates can review employment information on our website . We are very excited to be steaming ahead with respect to our vessel replacement program. Patrol has both an aging small vessel fleet and also a need to replace several of our older large patrol vessels. A new 42’ patrol vessel is currently in production at Farrin’s Boat Shop in Walpole; we hope to commission the new platform into service this coming spring.

A new 42-foot Calvin Beal boat will replace the Monitor this year. The boat will be stationed in Boothbay Harbor. DMR photo.

The new Calvin Beal will be stationed in Boothbay Harbor and replace the recently decommissioned P/V Monitor. The Bureau has also ordered two new small vessels and anticipate their arrival at some point next summer. The ongoing pandemic has presented its share of challenges for the Bureau and we remain committed to keeping the public and our officers safe during the performance of their duties. One of the biggest impacts on Patrol involves training requirements for new officers. I am very pleased to report that our three newest Marine Patrol Officers have just recently completed the Maine Criminal Justice Academy’s 38th Basic Law Enforcement Training Program. Before being interrupted by COVID, they were to have graduated back in May. Evan Whidden, Keegan Nelligan, and Adam Atherton are all now working in the field as certified full-time law enforcement officers. It seems that we have arrived at a peculiar waypoint, where the majority of council meetings, training classes and industry meetings are taking place on a virtual platform. Who would have ever thought? Unfortunately, Marine Patrol responded to an unusually high number of maritime fatalities during 2020. These tragedies are difficult for all involved and our thoughts continue to be with the friends and families of the victims. We remain optimistic that 2021 will be filled with good times, good fortune, and a goodbye to COVID-19.

Col. Jay Carroll is the chief of the Marine Patrol Bureau.

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