RANGELEY – A veteran police officer and Kittery police lieutenant has been hired as police chief.

He will be paid $53,000.

Lt. Russell French, 55, of Kennebunk will be appointed and sworn in at the Rangeley Board of Selectmen meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 19, at the Town Office, Town Manager Tim Pellerin said Monday.

French will begin his duties Feb. 1 with an annual salary of $53,000.

French plans to move to the Rangeley area. His last day at the Kittery Police Department is Jan. 28.

His wife of 24 years, Tracy, will follow him to Rangeley. Daughter Acadia plans to enroll at the University of Maine at Farmington in the fall, French said.

Former Rangeley Police Chief Dennis Leahy retired Nov. 1.

Eight applications for the position were considered and four candidates were interviewed, Pellerin said. Nine people, including two Franklin County police chiefs, interviewed the four. The field was eventually narrowed to one, with Pellerin interviewing French.

French, who has nearly 30 years in law enforcement, has taken numerous FBI leadership courses and is a strong advocate of community policing.

“He comes with a tremendous well-rounded background of police/community service and management,” Pellerin said. “He came highly recommended at all levels. He has a great attitude and really wants to make a difference.”

French plans to get to know the community and residents and to work with law enforcement agencies in the Franklin County area, Pellerin said. He will be in Rangeley off and on before Feb. 1.

“We’re very excited,” Pellerin said. “I’m excited to have somebody of his caliber.”

French started his career in the small, southern Florida town of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea in 1986.

Over his career he has served as a Drug Abuse Resistance Education instructor, community policing coordinator, patrol sergeant, administrative sergeant, patrol commander and has been lieutenant with the Kittery department since 2008, French said.

He has also been an instructor and counselor for 15 years or more at Camp POSTCARD, which stands for Police Officers Striving To Create And Reinforce Dreams, in Poland. It is for fifth- and sixth-graders. French said he has been in contact with representatives of Rangeley Lakes Regional School about the camp.

He has focused a lot of his career as an officer on community policing and getting to know the people, he said.

French believes he and his officers can make a difference in Rangeley, French said.

He likes the outdoors, enjoys riding ATVs, bird hunting and loves the water, he said. His family likes to kayak.

“I’m really looking forward to building relationships” with other law enforcement agencies and the U.S. Border Patrol, he said. He plans for his officers and himself to be involved in training in the area.

He said he is looking forward to moving to the Rangeley area and his new duties.

“It is like a breath of fresh air,” French said.

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