JAY — Nicholas Gulliver set a goal when he was growing up to become a police officer.
On Dec. 17, he became a certified officer with the Jay Police Department after graduating from the Maine Criminal Justice Academy. He has been with the department since October 2009.
“Nick set a goal of becoming a police officer at a very young age,” his mother, Beth Gulliver, said. “He lived his life to become that. He surrounded himself with good friends, good people. He's lived his life around that goal."
Nicholas decided on the profession when he was 5, his father, Tim Gulliver, said. “He never deviated from his ultimate goal,” he said.
The 23-year-old Jay man graduated from Jay High School in 2006, earned an associate degree in criminal justice at Andover College, now known as Kaplan University, and graduated from the academy Dec. 17.
His graduation day is one he'll never forget, he said. It's also the day he proposed to his future wife, Heather Dawes, 21, also of Jay.
Nicholas Gulliver comes from a long line of law enforcement officers on his mother's side. His great-grandfather, Willard Gates, was the first police chief in Millinocket.
He met current Jay police Chief Larry White Sr. when he was the Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer in Jay schools.
“He helped me,” Gulliver said.
Prior to becoming a police officer in October 2009, he worked security at a Farmington hospital.
“I just always wanted to help people,” Gulliver said. “Law enforcement is not a job. It's a career. It's something you have to stay focused on in your life.”
He summed up why he likes the profession using something he learned at the academy, he said.
People are like sheep and there are wolves out there waiting to prey on them, he said. Police are like sheep dogs because they protect the sheep, he said.
He likes the interaction with people and seeing the smiles on people's faces when they are helped, Gulliver said.
Not too many people want to be out in the middle of the night facing potential danger, he said.
His mother said she was scared to death of possible danger when her son first became an officer.
“You try not to think about that,” she said. “This is something he wants to do. I'll stand behind him 100 percent.”
She listens to a police scanner and knows the 10-code police use to tell an emergency dispatcher or fellow officer what they are doing. She admits she gets a little nervous when she's listening sometimes.
“I look at the dangerous aspect of it as these guys are like a bunch of brothers,” his father said. “They look out for each other. I was scared at first, but Larry took him under his wing.”
White said he was impressed with Nicholas even when he was in the fifth grade.
“He really seemed interested in law enforcement,” he said.
When he was interviewed for the Jay officer position, he had to go through interviews by a five-member committee.
Everyone was impressed with him, White said.
“He had a personality that we knew would work in law enforcement and the department,” White said. “His answers were honest. They were honest answers we wanted to hear, and they were coming from his heart. You could tell he meant what he said.”
There were a lot more candidates who were more qualified and experienced, he said.
“But we wanted to find someone who would serve the community well and give 100 percent of themselves,” White said. “We all agreed the one to do it was Nick.”
And it proved true, he said.
“He does his work without guidance, and he takes guidance well. He's going to do very well in his career. I honestly mean that. I'm proud to say I hired him.”