FALMOUTH — Policing is a tough job that’s been made harder in recent years by the opioid crises, online crime, scams aimed at the elderly and traffic hazards caused by distracted driving.

That’s one reason the Maine Association of Police annually honors the best of the best and celebrates “the incredible service” of those called to do police work.

At the association’s recent awards banquet at the Italian Heritage Center in Portland, the Falmouth Police Department took home three awards: the Larry Gross Cops award, Officer of the Year, and Dispatcher of the Year.

It was the first time in the 42-year history of the association that three of the top awards went to a single department, according to Falmouth Police Chief Ed Tolan, who said this week “it’s quite an honor (for us), as well as the people of Falmouth.”

In addition, Yarmouth Police Chief Michael Morrill received the Chief of the Year award, which is named in honor of David W. Pickering, a former Cape Elizabeth police chief and president of MAP who died in 2000.

“It’s obvious Dave Pickering was well-respected by the law enforcement community and those who had the opportunity to know and learn from him,” Morrill said this week. “Traits that every chief, including myself, would like to be recognized and remembered for.”

Morrill has been the police chief in Yarmouth for the past 16 years and with the Police Department since 1977.

“I’m honored to have been chosen by the Maine Association of Police to receive this award and proud to have my name added to the list of past recipients, ” Morrill said during the Jan. 27 banquet.

In 2015, Morrill was also named Chief of the Year by the Maine Chiefs of Police Association, a separate professional organization.

Tolan said Tuesday that having three of his officers selected for recognition “meant a lot to me as chief and to their families, as well. These are all excellent officers who work hard for the town and put in long hours.”

Tolan said “it was a great moment” when he first heard that three people from his department were winning awards.

Detective Jeff Pardue, who could not be reached for comment prior to The Forecaster’s deadline, won the Officer of the Year award.

Tolan said Pardue started out as a patrol officer and then moved up to detective about two years ago when Falmouth police added a second detective’s position.

“He’s a very ingenious and very talented young man,” Tolan said of Pardue.

While Pardue has solved what Tolan called “some very high-profile cases,” including two recent, interstate scams, he said Pardue “does an amazing job” on all the cases handed to him.

Sgt. Frank Soule took home the Larry Gross Cops Award, which Tolan said goes to someone “who’s a true cop’s cop. Someone who takes care of his people and works hard.”

“Soule was recognized for his tireless commitment to the officers under his command off and on duty,” a department press release said. “His dedication to their training, along with their mental and physical well being drew the attention (of) several law enforcement agencies (across) the state.”

Lee Ruby earned the Dispatcher of the Year award, and was selected for his dedication to duty.

“Ruby has been instrumental in utilizing his quick-thinking and technical skills in assisting patrol operations with high-profile investigations … and is credited (with) providing input and technical guidance,” the department press release said.

“Lee does a great job on his own initiative,” Tolan added.

He said this is the first year Falmouth has taken home several Maine Association of Police awards. “We have absolutely no input on the outcome,” Tolan said. “This was highly unusual.”

The police association represents more than 1,000 officers from 50 police agencies across Maine on everything from labor issues to “promoting and developing a friendly cooperative effort among its members, elevating the standards of police officers throughout the state … (and) mitigating the hazards of police work,” according to the organization’s website.

Staff Writer Jocelyn Van Saun contributed to this report. Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or [email protected]. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.

Three Falmouth officers won prestigious awards at the recent Maine Association of Police annual banquet. From left are dispatcher Lee Ruby, Sgt. Frank Soule and Detective Jeff Pardue.

Yarmouth Police Chief Michael Morrill, center, received the David W. Pickering Chief of the Year Award from the Maine Association of Police. With him are past recipient Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck, left, and MAP Vice President Kevin Riordan of the Old Orchard Police Department.