Joshua Potvin started his law enforcement career 19 years ago with the marine patrol in his native Harpswell. A year ago, he became chief of the Fryeburg police.

We asked about his day job, one of his riskiest assignments and, on a much lighter note, stuck ducks.

Name: Joshua Joseph Potvin

Age: 38

Lives: Fryeburg

What first drew you to law enforcement? My grandfather was a Topsham police officer and I had many positive role models in law enforcement growing up. Ever since I was a kid I knew I either wanted to be a firefighter or a police officer. Seeing how my role models helped others attracted me to law enforcement, and wanting to help people when they need it the most.

What’s an average day look like? My average day as chief is not as exciting as when I was a patrol officer, however, I find it equally rewarding. My job mainly consists of administrative duties, which include scheduling for our 18 police officers, grant writing, budgeting, policy development, review and enforcement, as well as quality assurance for our day-to-day operations.

I often survey some of the citizens we deal with to make sure my officers were professional and courteous during their interactions as part of that quality control. My position as chief provides me with the opportunity to develop and implement community-involved programs. In Fryeburg, we have implemented the Kidz Tix program, which provides a great opportunity for our officers to interact proactively with the children in our community by rewarding them for safe or courteous behavior. Our officers issue reward citations to the kids and also give them free coupons, which are generously donated by our local businesses as part of the positive reward program.

We will soon be implementing our drug addiction assistance program, which will offer those who want help with their opiate addiction the proper resources needed for treatment. Throw in a few speaking engagements or staff meetings and my schedule is pretty full. My day usually doesn’t end when I leave the office, though. I often attend nighttime meetings and I am part of various coalition committees throughout Oxford County, (and also) get called out after hours to assist with major crimes.

Last time you felt, “Exactly! This is why I got into this job . . .”? There have been many times during my career where I have felt this way. Every time I get to help a person in need or hold an offender accountable for their actions confirms why I still love my chosen profession after nearly 19 years in the trade. Most recently, I was able to remove a domestic violence victim from a dangerous situation, and find these situations very rewarding. We practice a “no excuse” approach to domestic abuse situations in Fryeburg and pride ourselves on enforcing the no excuse approach when holding offenders accountable. As officers, if we can have as many positive interactions with the citizens we serve as possible, help an addict get the proper treatment and recovery, or be a positive role model for children, then we are doing our jobs, which is very rewarding.

You’ve also been a private security contractor in Afghanistan — what were you doing and what was that like? I took advantage of a unique opportunity with the U.S. Department of State back in 2012. I was assigned to a diplomatic security team at the U.S. embassy in Kabul. My job was an explosive K9 handler. Since I had been a narcotics, apprehension and tracking K9 handler for seven years, I was able to easily transition into explosive detection. Believe it or not, my assigned K9 was a female pit bull named Pedalz. Pedalz and I were assigned to certain checkpoints surrounding the embassy as well as other diplomatic meeting venues throughout the city. Pedalz and I worked 12-hour shifts as a team, with one day off per week. We lived at Camp Sullivan, which is also located in Kabul, during my deployment.

Were you concerned about your safety over there? Or your family worried about you? Both. That region of the world is very unstable and at times self-destructive. I think it’s natural to be concerned for your own safety under those conditions. As a K9 handler I was assigned a protection team whose job was to keep Pedalz and me safe while we searched for explosives. I was able to communicate with my family back home by Skype and phone calls, however, the delay and reception made it difficult at times. My deployment gave me a whole new respect for our troops, that’s for sure.

Your department dealt very kindly (and adorably) with the duck stuck in the chimney this summer. What are among the strangest calls you’ve been on? One of the things that makes our job interesting is no two days are ever the same. When a police officer puts on their uniform in the morning they never know what the day has in store for them. One minute you could be helping an injured animal, the next you could be dealing with someone who was just assaulted. We have had many major calls and the stuck duck seemed to get the most media attention.

Although police are often the first to get called when people need help, we also get called when someone does not know who else to call. The homeowner contacted us as a last resort for the poor duck. Luckily one of my officers is cross-trained as an animal control officer and was able to help the duck out. We have to have compassion in this line of work. I have quite a few stories which are not appropriate to share, however helping the woman get the stuck duck out of her chimney was one of the strangest.

Snow will be here soon enough. Advice to motorists this coming winter: My advice for winter driving is simple. Don’t be in a hurry. Take your time, make sure your vehicle tires are adequate and your speed is appropriate for the road conditions.

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