“There’s no such thing as an average day in police work,” said Eric Greenleaf, community resource officer in Scarborough, on his actions at Maine Medical Center last month. Drew Johnson / Leader

Eric Greenleaf, community resource officer of the Scarborough Police Department, was on detail for the county at Maine Medical Center last month, sitting with a prisoner who needed medical attention.

Then came the call from a nearby room: “He’s got a weapon!”

Greenleaf, relying on lessons learned throughout his 35-year career with the Scarborough Police Department, sprang up to assist hospital security personnel and confronted the patient who was posing the threat.

“There’s no such thing as an average day in police work,” he said in an interview at the Public Safety Office last week. “You’ve just got to be prepared and have the proper mindset.”

“MaineHealth Maine Medical Center Portland is grateful for the assistance provided by the Scarborough Police Department,” a spokesperson for the hospital said in a statement to the Leader.

When Greenleaf approached the patient, “the young man was reaching inside of his hospital pajamas,” Greenleaf said. “I said, ‘What do you have?’ And he postured to me, like a challenge to come in further.”


When he asked again, the man revealed a homemade weapon. Greenleaf asked him to put it on the bed.

“He was kind of playing cat and mouse with me; he’d put it there and take it back, put it there, take it back,” Greenleaf said.

All the while, the officer was timing the patient’s movements.

“On one of them, I just reached in and grabbed this thing and handed it over to the security guard,” Greenleaf said.

Once the man was in custody, security searched his room and found multiple other homemade weapons.

Greenleaf said he was able to draw on past experiences in coming to a resolution that didn’t require him “to go hands-on.”


“I knew he had no way of escaping, and trying to remain calm in something like that is probably in the best interest, because I didn’t want to telegraph aggressive behavior toward him,” he said.

Greenleaf is also a crisis negotiator for the department and that helped him “maintain a level of balance and calmness,” he said.

The community resource office also works closely with students and he noticed some familiar behaviors in the patient.

“Working in the schools, I’ve seen some behavior before that just kind of led me to believe that he was more attention-seeking than wanting to harm somebody,” he said.

And a peaceful resolution is always a positive.

“Any day that you don’t have to go hands-on with somebody is a good day,” he said.

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