John Lewis graduated from Telstar High School in Bethel in 2009. Since then, he’s been married, deployed to Afghanistan as a Marine, had two little girls, graduated from the Maine Criminal Justice Academy at the top of his class academically and is now serving as a patrol officer on the Norway Police Department. He has the scoop on what it’s like to be a small-town cop, and the challenges he faces every day.

Name: John Lewis

Age: 26

Hometown: Bethel

Occupation: Norway police officer

Relationship status: Married

What made you want to pursue a law enforcement career? I was raised in a law enforcement family and always had officers of all types (state police, wardens, deputies, local officers) in my home. As I grew up I always held these men and women in high opinion. Being in law enforcement was always something I came back to as I was growing up and trying to figure out what I would do as an adult. After graduating high school and joining the Marine Corps I felt myself being pulled further and further into a desire to enter law enforcement. Once I finally dipped my toe in, there was no going back.

How did your military experience prepare you for and influence your law enforcement career? I believe my military experience greatly enhances my ability to perform my job. I feel that because of my time in the Marine Corps I can work through higher levels of stress and chaos then I would have been able to otherwise. It also ingrained in me a deep respect for traditions and those that came before me, which helps me to remember and learn from the past as well continue to learn from the officers around me and their experiences. I have also found that my time in the military has helped prepare me for the different tactical situations and weapons systems that officers encounter.

What do you enjoy most about being a police officer? What is the most challenging? One of the many things I enjoy about being a police officer is the feeling of being an active and ever-present member of the community. I get to go out every day and try to positively affect the community, and for my efforts I am often met by thankful citizens and an ever-increasing circle of friends and partners in my work toward that effort. Alongside this is the opposing side of the coin, where as hard as myself and the other officers may try, we are seen as the enemy. One of the most challenging things I feel I encounter is when I arrive somewhere and try as I may, I cannot resolve an issue without someone feeling that I am against them.

What types of unique things has your family learned/experienced, due to your career? In speaking with my family one of the biggest things they have gained from my career is an ever-growing family. Each and every officer I work with becomes a member of the family and it is great to see the interactions when the “two sides” of the family come together.

What extent of training/education do you need to pursue to become a police officer? Training requirements for police officers should not be thought of in respect to what the minimum training required to fill the position is. Officers should always be trying to complete new training. As there is no regular day at the office for a police officer. Any and all training that can be completed could come in handy at any point. The same can be said for pursuing higher education.

If you could tell civilians one thing to keep in mind when interacting with officers, what would it be? What do you want them to be aware of? One of the biggest things that would help people through their interactions with police officers is to know that when an officer asks or tells you to do something, there is a reason behind it. I don’t know of any officers that tell people to do things just because they enjoy the game of Simon Says. If an officer is telling someone to do something, it is often because there is a legitimate safety concern behind it and the officer is trying to mitigate it.

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John Lewis speaks at his Maine Criminal Justice Academy graduation in January 2017.

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