DIXFIELD — Anne Simmons-Edmunds returned to nighttime patrol duty Tuesday, this time as a full-time police officer.

She graduated Friday from the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in Vassalboro.

“I’m thrilled to be back,” she said. “I missed my town and I missed my people.”

Simmons-Edmunds has been a reserve officer for Dixfield Police Department for the past two years and left Aug. 15 to complete an 18-week course in Vassalboro to become a full-time officer. She was allowed to come home on weekends.

“That was the hardest part,” she said. “Being a mom of an 8-year-old who didn’t get to see his mom for five days and was lucky to get a 5-minute phone call each night was tough.”

Simmons-Edmunds’ 8-year-old son, River, had to rely on his father, Chris, to play both parental roles while his mother was at the academy.

“I could not have done it without my husband, Chris, helping me out,” she said. “He cleaned, cooked, took care of our son, he did it all.”

Simmons-Edmunds said the academy training was a little harder for her because of her age. She is 45.

“I’m a little bit older than the traditional recruit at the academy,” she said.

Simmons-Edmunds added that because of her age, and without the brute strength most of the younger recruits had, she was required to use every tool she had to pass certain class requirements.

One thing that helped her along the way was her years of on-the-job experience.

Simmons-Edmunds began working alongside law enforcement in 1989 as an animal control officer in Scarborough. From there she worked for various departments as a reserve officer, including Scarborough and Rumford police departments.

Simmons-Edmunds is also currently the animal control officer for Mexico and Dixfield. She lives in Bryon with her family and serves as a selectman for the town. She has two other children, Mercedes, 17, and Random Gurney, 14.

Eric Parker, assistant director at the academy, said one of the more strenuous class activities recruits experience at the academy is being pepper-sprayed and then running through a simulated course.

“Being a reserve, I had already been pepper-sprayed,” Simmons-Edmunds said. “However, the course part was new for me. We had to run 15 to 20 feet and go at a punching bag. Then we had to run to another station and handcuff someone, and then run to the last station and be able to stay calm and talk on a radio before we could wash the pepper spray out of our eyes.”

Parker had also listed Taser training as a course but being stunned by one was on a volunteer basis. Recruits are asked if they want to feel the effects a Taser has on a suspect.

“The Taser?” Simmons-Edmunds said. “That’s a piece of cake. I stepped right up and said go ahead.”

She said she had previously been stunned before as a reserve with Dixfield Police Department, a requirement that each officer who carries a Taser has to experience.

Simmons-Edmunds said the reason she loves the job is the diversity.

“Every day is different,” she said. “You can make this job anything you want it to be.”

She also said she enjoys working with the community and giving kids a positive female image in town. Working with the elderly is also something that is near to her heart.

As a reserve this past spring, Simmons-Edmunds helped create a program called Operation Sunshine. The goal of the program is to keep track of elderly residents who may not have any family or anyone nearby to help them out.

The officers conduct welfare checks on members of the program to make sure their needs are being taken care of and sometimes just to offer friendship.

“She’s perfect for that program,” Chief Richard A. Pickett said. “She really knows how to get in there and create a friendship and help out those who need it.”

One of the first duties Simmons-Edmunds did when she returned to duty Tuesday night was to deliver care packages to some of the members of Operation Sunshine.

“I’m just happy to be back and to apply the skills that I learned at the academy,” she said.

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