Interim Winslow Public Safety Director Leonard Macdaid, right, speaks beside Officer Jonathan Chasse during a July 10 Town Council meeting. Chasse was back on patrol with the department after graduating from the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in May, while Dylan Rodrigue, Winslow’s newest hire, and the town’s first-ever officer trainee, listens out of frame. Screenshot from livestream

WINSLOW — Faced with a shortage of candidates for vacant positions, the town’s police department is looking to reach full officer staffing through an innovative apprenticeship program that allows young people to get on track for a career in law enforcement.

The initiative, which hired its first “trainee officer” last month, will see Winslow hire young people as apprentices, sponsoring them through all the pre-service training needed to become a certified law enforcement officer, said interim Public Safety Director Leonard Macdaid. The program is open to people under the age of 21.

There’s necessary “out-of-the-box” thinking behind the program, Macdaid said. For the past six months, Winslow officials have struggled to find people to fill three open positions within the town’s police department, highlighting the difficulty in hiring for public safety positions across Maine and the nation.

Two positions are to been filled by conventional means, but with the help of the apprenticeship program, Macdaid said the department’s ranks will be full by August. The department currently has 11 full-time personnel. Officers are paid a range of $24.11 to $36.39 an hour, depending on experience, according to a department job listing.

The program’s first hire, Dylan Rodrigue, 21, was brought on in June. The Winslow Police Department will sponsor him through all his pre-service training requirements, and after a year of instruction and some experience working for emergency dispatch, Rodrigue will join Winslow’s ranks as a full-time officer with benefits.

Rodrigue, a graduate of the Messalonskee schools based in the Oakland area, could not have been hired without going through this new program, Macdaid said.


In Maine, before applying to join a police department, a candidate must be 21 years old and already have completed Phases I & II of their pre-service training requirements. Those first steps involve 120 hours of online and in-person instruction as well as written, physical fitness and medical testing.

Dylan Rodrigue, 21, of the Oakland/Waterville area, is Winslow’s newest hire, and the town’s first-ever officer trainee. Courtesy Winslow Police Department

Rodrigue was 20 when he applied, Macdaid said, and though a military officer serving in the National Guard reserves, he had none of the prerequisite training.

“We’re starting people out with none of that,” Macdaid said. “It can take quite a while to go through all those steps, and it’s quite expensive, too.”

To Rodrigue, the benefit of enrolling in the trainee program at age 20 instead of waiting to turn 21 and going it alone was being able to be employed with an agency that would sponsor his training while compensating him for his time.

“Phase II can be difficult to complete because it requires attendance at the class for two weeks and employers usually aren’t willing to grant that much time away from your job,” Rodrigue explained.

There is an element of risk in training up an apprentice, knowing that when the year is up they could choose to join a department elsewhere or even decide police work isn’t for them at all. But Macdaid said he would only consider candidates who are sure they want to pursue policing.


The public safety director hopes that after a year with the program, the rapport built between a trainee and their fellow officers would be strong enticement to have them stay beyond the apprenticeship.

Rodrigue said he is looking forward to spending his entire career in the town of Winslow. He’d like to become a drug recognition expert, and eventually receive specialized training in impaired driving enforcement.

When future positions become available within the town’s police department, Winslow officials said they will not only accept candidates through this program, but they will consider hiring people even younger than Rodrigue.

“We have kids coming out of high school having done well in (criminal justice programs) who aren’t going to college, but we have no outlet to use those talents,” Town Manager Erica LaCroix said. “By the time they’re 21 they often end up in completely different career paths. (The apprenticeship program) could get some of these kids gainfully employed and working towards a law enforcement career so they don’t lose interest or choose to go another direction with their lives.”

Winslow’s fire department already runs a similar program, Macdaid noted, bringing candidates with no experience whatsoever on and training them up from scratch. But the former police chief, whose interim public safety director role involves overseeing both police and fire staff, said he hasn’t heard of any other police departments in the region adopting a similar approach.

“I think almost every department in this area, if not the whole state, is down people. So we’re very fortunate at this point,” said Macdaid. “I think a lot of police departments and fire departments, we always tend to think the way to recruit people is to just throw money at them. And that is true, but at some point, you’ve got to try something other than money.”

Winslow officials, Macdaid said, have raised officers’ starting pay in recent years. Unlike some other departments in the region, Winslow does not offer signing bonuses, which may indicate that creative solutions are indeed needed to attract people to police departments.

“There was a time period like a year ago, we weren’t getting any applications at all,” said Macdaid. “With these new programs, we’re starting to get people applying again.”

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