Bangor police don’t normally respond to cat-stuck-in-a-tree calls, but a recent incident involving a cat, a group of onlookers and a man who scaled a tree in an attempt to rescue it has grabbed the public’s attention.

The incident was chronicled by Lt. Tim Cotton, who posted a report on the incident on the department’s Facebook page Friday:

The posting was an immediate hit, and by Sunday afternoon 700 people had left comments.

“Thank you Bangor Maine Police for reminding me that those who wait will be rewarded,” wrote one reader.

Police blotters can be dry reading, filled with procedural language and legal jargon. But the Bangor Police Department has found a way to make some items interesting – and entertaining.

For the past three years, Cotton has presided over the department’s Facebook page with humorous, philosophical reports on things he and his fellow officers encounter on the beat. Not only has the page won a loyal following – as of Sunday the page had 229,395 followers and 227,628 likes – it has become a force for social good.

Lt. Tim Cotton

The cat post was a classic Cotton entry: “It is interesting to be standing in a group of people of all shapes and ages while each one of them individually emits their personal ‘cat-call.’ If it amuses me to hear the tongue-clicks, imitation meows, and ‘here kitty kitties,’ think about what the cat is thinking as it stares down realizing it is in total control.

“A cat, conducting an orchestra of lunacy. Why would he come down with entertainment like that?”

The story had an unusual and amusing ending.

“A little later, we were called back to the tree in order to coax a man down,” Cotton wrote. “He was about ’60 to 80 feet up the tree,’ according to Officer Dustin Dow’s report.

“The man had walked by, heard the cat, and set out to climb the mighty Spruce. It was pitch black and Dow used his flashlight to guide the man down to the ground. They both left and the cat waited for his next victim.”

Cotton added: “It should be noted that the cat finally came down, probably out of pure boredom after the foot traffic in the area subsided and he could find no more victims to be lured into his devious little plan.”

On Friday, Cotton also mused on the discovery of an overstuffed brown couch at the Bangor-Hampden line:

“I took the photo a few weeks ago and thought someone who reads this fine publication might have dropped it ‘by mistake.’ Maybe you sat on this when visiting their home on one occasion and would like to call them for us to let them know where they lost it (by mistake) in the middle of the road.

“This is an example of poor furniture/load management and it should have been discarded (on purpose) at a local transfer facility. You know who you are and I hope your cheeks are flushed when you read this.

“Pray your wife doesn’t see it. She thinks you took it to the dump. No wonder you got back early, in time for the ball game, sitting on your new furniture. You better hope she doesn’t find out you are even lazier than she thought your were.”

Readers responded with 53 comments.

“Thinking of moving to Bangor and this cracked me up. I couldn’t stop laughing. Yeah I think I will fit in!” wrote Dawn Smith of Galveston, Texas.

Cotton, 54, started posting on the department’s Facebook page when he became a sergeant, filling the position of communications officer. “I got forced to do it,” he said Sunday.

Lt. Tim Cotton’s human touch pervades the Bangor Police Department Facebook page, and readers respond accordingly.

But when it became evident that he had a real flair and following, the chief asked him to continue after Cotton was promoted to lieutenant.

Cotton said he got a lot of bad advice from experts in the beginning. His posts were too long and he didn’t have enough pictures, they said. But it was hard advice to take.

“I don’t know what the basis is for the theory, and so I kept doing it the way I did,” he said.

The page gains 500 to 1,500 new likes a week. Its mascot is a stuffed American wood duck Cotton named “The Duck of Justice,” or DOJ, which he sometimes sneaks into photos.

Cotton said his theory about why the page clicks with so many is that people like the idea of Maine in general, they want to read about a small-town police department and stories about people. Another big appeal, he believes, is that it’s free of nastiness and anger. He said that is true of most encounters between police and the public as well.

The comments from readers are neither bitter nor angry. It is as if the department’s page has created a rare internet safety zone, free from trolls and inflammatory language.

Author Stephen King poses with another Bangor celebrity: the Bangor Police Department’s Duck of Justice. Bangor Police Department Facebook photo

Cotton said the site has also brought about a lot of good. Its huge following ensures that anytime a call goes out from the department for help for the homeless, the donations flow in. Last year Cotton mentioned that the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter was seeking sleeping bags to hand out to people.

“Within three days the shelter was receiving packages of expensive, high-end sleeping bags from around the world to pass out to folks they couldn’t house that night,” he said.

Friday’s cat-stuck-in-a-tree post concluded on a typically Cottonesque wistful note:

“It’s Friday. It probably feels like you have been stuck in a tree because it’s been one of those weeks. Come on down.

The weather is stellar, Maine is a wonderful place to be on a weekend, and you probably have someone trying to coax you to do something interesting. Don’t make them chase you. Being around good people doing interesting things is a superb refuge from the 24 hour news cycle.”

Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

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