When Wayne Coffin first saw the Mister Bagel sign in Gorham that read “Good Luck,” he said it was “breathtaking.”

“You work through the years and don’t think people give a hoot about police officers and the police department. It shows that they do care,” he said.

After 35 years of serving the Gorham Police Department, Coffin formally announced his retirement last week. Mister Bagel is just one of many business around town that have signs wishing him luck.

When Heather Moody, owner of Mister Bagel in Gorham, heard about his retirement, she wanted to wish him luck.

“He’s been an amazing officer. He’s done many great things for the town of Gorham,” she said. “He’s one of the best.”

Born and raised in Gorham, Coffin graduated from Gorham High School in 1963, but it wasn’t until 1970 that he had a taste of law enforcement as a reserve officer. He served the department part time while working as a salesman for E.G. Foden Co. in Portland.

“The job I had was slowly going out of business,” Coffin said, and after five years as a reserve officer he saw an opportunity to become a full-time patrol officer. “Six months after I was hired (full time), the business closed.”

“As a reserve officer, I got a taste of police work,” he said. “I thought I could not only better myself, but the community.”

As a “hometown boy,” he said it was a way to make Gorham a better place.

“And I think I’ve succeeded.”

Gorham Police Chief Ronald Shepard has worked with Coffin his entire career.

“When (Wayne) went out there, he went out to represent the department,” Shepard said. “He always worked to make sure the department was seen in a good light.”

Early in his career, Coffin made 63 drunken-driving arrests in one year. He worked his way up the ranks to become a corporal, then sergeant and lieutenant.

In 1999, Coffin underwent a quadruple bypass, but that did not stop him. He returned to the Gorham Police Department as a patrol officer, focusing on traffic law enforcement in the latter part of his career.

“I’ve written thousands of traffic violations over the years,” he said.

Aside from making Gorham a safer community, Coffin has also inspired another generation of law enforcement members. A nephew and his son-in-law both work in area departments, and he’s worked beside his son Michael Coffin, also a patrol officer for the Gorham Police Department.

“In the last three years, we worked the day shift together,” Coffin said.

His son is on a rotating schedule, so when their workdays overlapped, Coffin said they had a “good time” working together.

“It makes me extremely proud” that his son followed in his footsteps, Coffin said. “He wanted to be like Dad.”

Within the department, Shepard said Coffin was well-respected by other officers.

“He had a lot of history with the department and knew a lot of people. He was a valuable resource to all the officers,” the chief said.

At age 65, Coffin has retired from his role as a police officer, but he isn’t ready to give up working. He said he plans to start a small business detailing cars, working out of his home in Windham.

“He’s going to be missed by a lot of people. We’ll move on, but it’s going to leave a void for a while,” Shepard said.

 

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at: [email protected]