Retired Cumberland County Sheriff Wesley Ridlon, 90, of Buxton, passed away Jan. 21, leaving behind a community that appreciated him and his commitment to the job.

The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office announced Ridlon’s death with “great personal sadness” in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

Sheriff Wesley Wallace Ridlon. Facebook photo

Spanning more than 40 years, Ridlon’s law enforcement career began with the Portland Police Department from 1957-1975. In 1972, he was named Parade Magazine Police Officer of the Year for his work with the community and especially his work with children. He was known as “Officer Friendly” in the Portland school system, according to the Facebook post.

“Sheriff Ridlon was practicing ‘community policing’ long before it was recognized as a necessary law enforcement concept,” the sheriff’s office said.

In 1978, Ridlon started his career with the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office as a sergeant assigned to community relations. Twelve years later, he became the county’s 48th sheriff, serving from 1990-1998.

Current Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce said he knew Ridlon for 37 years and referred to him as “an honorable man.” He said Ridlon valued relationships and set those expectations for his staff.


Accomplishments during Ridlon’s time as sheriff included involvement in the building of the current prison in Cumberland County. He also founded the department’s tactical team, which has since grown into a regional organization, according to Joyce.

“Many of his improvements are why the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office is the professional organization it is today,” Joyce said. “I am proud to have worked for him.”

Dozens of citizens also shared gratitude and dismay on social media.

“He had a good heart, a quick smile, and a sweet disposition. The very definition of a nice man, who always tried to do the right thing,” Deb Rhoads wrote.

“You were a very special man, dedicated to serving. My sincere condolences to your family. Thank you for all the special things you did,” Carol O’Donnell Penta wrote.

Joyce said Ridlon will be remembered for his genuine friendliness and community outreach.

Visitation will be held at 10 a.m., followed by a memorial service at 11 a.m. at Jones, Rick & Barnes Funeral Home in Portland on Feb. 8.

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