December 31, 2012

Franklin County’s sheriff ready for ‘forced’ retirement

Dennis C. Pike, who lost his bid for a fourth term as sheriff, is retiring after 46 years of wearing a police badge.

By KAITLIN SCHROEDER Morning Sentinel

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Sheriff Dennis C. Pike is literally at home on the job as his modest Farmington house has long served as annex for the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department, which the lawman of 46 years headed for three terms prior to losing re-election to Scott Nichols. But the 74-year-old Pike has had a lively career in law enforcement and is ready to hand over the badge.

David Leaming/Morning Sentinel

One of his favorite arrests came years later after he investigated a break-in at the American Legion Post.

While investigating, he found the burglar's bank deposit slip left behind, leading him right to the culprit.

"I had always joked that I wished a burglar would leave me his card and then this guy did pretty much that," he said.

In 1991, he retired from the Farmington police to work full time as a deputy. Twenty years later, Pike began his 12-year tenure as sheriff, and named Ray Meldrum chief deputy, which he said was one of his better decisions.

Meldrum said he and Pike worked well as a team.

"We had an understanding from the beginning that we'd call things the way we saw them and be very honest and open about things," he said. "We didn't always agree, but I think it worked out well."

Meldrum said their accomplishments included thoroughly training the deputies.

"We've got some of the best trained deputies around. They've got specialized training all over the place," he said.

Pike said some of his other accomplishments included starting the K-9 program, teaching D.A.R.E. at area schools and working extensively with the Canadian Border Services Agency on increased border patrol after 9/11.

Though his work week became more standardized by the 1980s, Pike said his career has always been anything but a traditional 9-to-5 job. That lifestyle, he said, took a toll on those close to him.

Pike said he thinks becoming a police officer during his first marriage was what ended it.

After five years of marriage, in 1967, his wife packed for what she said was a weekend trip to the World's Fair in Montreal with other nurses from the hospital where she worked.

He never saw or heard from her again.

"I have no idea where she is today. She disappeared," he said.

GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT

He said his second wife, Sheila, now 66, met him as a police officer and knew what she was getting into when they married in 1972.

"She had the opportunity to know before the ceremony what she was inheriting after the ceremony," he said.

She lived her whole life on the same street as he moved to, and he said one day he told her they'd either have to get married or pave a path straight from his house to hers.

"You could say I ended up marrying the proverbial girl next door," he said.

Instead of naming solved cases or listing awards, Pike said he considers marrying Sheila to be his greatest accomplishment in the last 50 years.

Pike said he often thinks that if anyone has paid the price for his demanding career, it has been Sheila and their three children, who he said were often put on hold for work.

"You'd get all ready to go out somewhere and then a crisis would happen in the 11th hour and the plans would be off," he said.

Pike's busy schedule only increased over the years. On top of his officer duties, Pike became town selectman in 1998. He also has been the area's National Weather cooperative observer since 1966, recording and submitting temperature and precipitation levels several times a day. Family and government officials say he loves participating in every parade and community events.

His daughter, Carol Ouellette, said she remembers times when the Christmas tree had to be put up a week late so he could be there for it.

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