With the retirement of Gorham Police Chief Daniel Jones, left, last week, Christopher Sanborn, right, is Gorham’s acting chief. Robert Lowell/American Journal

GORHAM — Gorham Police Chief Daniel Jones wrapped up 30 years in law enforcement last week and, he hopes, is headed for a less stressful life.

“I’m walking out at the top of my game,” Jones said Friday, his last day on duty.

Jones, 54, believes stress had hastened the death by heart attack earlier this year of Gorham Officer Wayne “Pooch” Drown at age 64. Two years ago, Jones’ best friend, a captain in a Florida sheriff’s office, died of a heart attack at age 49.

“I’m hanging up the gun and the badge,” he said. “When Pooch died, it took me awhile to figure it out.”

The father of four, Jones said he wants to enjoy time with his family.

A sign on the Gorham police chief’s office door on Friday. Robert Lowell/American Journal

Citing statistics, he said life expectancy in the United States is 76 years, but for those reaching retirement age, it increases to 85. He said the average life expectancy for a retired police officer is 66.

“You lose 19 years working this job,” he said in his office Friday.

Donning his Gorham uniform one last time, Jones participated in a ceremony Friday in remembrance of Drown at a high school football game. With his Gorham house sold, he left Saturday for Florida, where he began his law enforcement career in 1990. He left Gorham and the state 11 years to the day from when he first came to Maine.

Jones came to Gorham from Kennebunk, where he was deputy police chief. He previously served with St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office in Fort Pierce, Florida, and the Fort Pierce Police Department, and was a task force officer with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Customs Service. He was Gorham’s chief for four years, the department’s seventh leader.

He doesn’t have any concrete work plans for the future. He might explore teaching at a police academy in Florida, he said.

Gorham ranked as the fourth safest community in Maine in 2018, according to National Council for Safety and Security, and Jones attributes that ranking to the community itself.

“We need support of the people,” he said.

Acting Chief Christopher Sanborn said Jones brought some new ideas to the Gorham department.

“As an example, he created a third administrator or command position. The new position was the deputy police chief position. The lieutenant’s position became the patrol commander position, which focuses on command of the patrol division,” Sanborn said.

Under Jones’ command, the department also launched a citizen’s police academy, a town Volunteers in Police Service unit and re-instituted a canine unit. He met periodically with residents for coffee, and Sanborn said Jones was well received in the community.

He also installed a volunteer chaplain position to the department.

Jones said notifying next of kin about a traffic fatality is one of the hardest parts of a police job.

“You can’t get enough training on that,” he said.

There were officer shootings on his watch, too, and Jones was involved in one himself. In 2017 he returned gunfire with a suspect who had fired in the direction of Gorham officers from a wooded area. The suspect was taken into custody and an investigation exonerated Jones.

In May, Gorham Officer Dean Hannon shot and killed a wanted suspect in the parking lot outside Burger King in the town center, according to the Maine Attorney General’s Office. “I’m confident he’ll be cleared,” Jones said.

Retirement means he won’t have to have a cell phone by his side “24-7,” but unfortunately, he said, it also means giving up the camaraderie and the brotherhood of the police force.

Still, he said he doesn’t feel “conflicted” about stepping down. “I know I’m doing the right thing.”

Gorham Police Chief Daniel Jones, left, and Deputy Chief Christopher Sanborn show off Jones’ retirement cake Friday, the day Jones stepped away from law enforcement. Robert Lowell/American Journal

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