Residents of Woodford Street in Portland emerged from their homes with their hands over their hearts Friday morning to watch the procession of police from all over the state, who marched through the city in honor of Portland Police Sgt. Robert Johnsey.

Johnsey, 37, died Monday after accidentally shooting himself while preparing his duty belt at his Westbrook home.

At a funeral held at Woodfords Congregational Church Friday, Johnsey’s fellow officers remembered him for his dedication to his family, his love for the outdoors and his achievement in his work.

Portland Police Chief Tim Burton described Johnsey as someone who lived his life for others. He listed the attributes that make a true man – someone who loves and protects his wife, his children and his country.

“Sgt. Robert Johnsey is a man,” Burton said.

Former supervisor and close friend Lt. Bill Preis said Johnsey’s sense of humor and quirkiness – “his stammering and stuttering and talking too fast” – were things that everyone who knew him could appreciate.

But despite a goofy and fun-loving exterior, Preis said Johnsey had a serious side, too. He said he loved reading the classics and writing poetry, though he wouldn’t have readily admitted to it. Preis said Johnsey had dreams of building a camp up north, and the two of them would take day trips in search of the perfect plot of land.

When they weren’t exploring the woods or taking a fishing trip, Preis said, he and Johnsey were hanging out at the VFW hall or smoking cigars in his garage on Deer Hill Avenue, trying to hide them from his wife, Carol.

Officer Victor Cote, who worked alongside Johnsey for the nine years he was in the department, said he’d talk about what a lucky man he was for having a wife like Carol.

Though Cote said he knew how much he loved taking camping trips with his friends, he would get even more excited when he got to take his children, Rachel, 12, and A.J., 11.

A.J. Johnsey, the final speaker at the funeral, said his greatest memories of being with his dad will be from playing catch in yard, hiking in the woods or just talking.

“He taught me enough stuff in 11 years to last until I’m about 99,” said A.J. Johnsey, who called his father “one of the best cops in the history of law enforcement.”

“He was the greatest man I ever knew,” he said.

Standing outside Woodfords Congregational Church Friday afternoon, Portland Police Officers embrace each other after funeral services for Portland Police Sgt. Robert Johnsey. Johnsey, 37, died Monday May 5, 2008 of injuries inflicted after his handgun accidentally discharged.Standing outside Woodfords Congregational Church Friday afternoon, Portland Police Officers embrace each other after funeral services for Portland Police Sgt. Robert Johnsey. Johnsey, 37, died Monday May 5, 2008 of injuries after his handgun discharged.Colorguards walk down Stevens Avenue Friday morning as they make their way to Woodfords Congregational Church to pay their respects to Sgt. Robert Johnsey. Johnsey, 37, died Monday May 5, 2008 of injuries after his handgun discharged.


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