Regional School Unit 10 School Resource Officer Doug Maifeld reads to students who are at home Monday in a video posted to Facebook. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

RUMFORD — In this time of social distancing, RSU 10 School Resource Officer Doug Maifeld has found a way to connect with students — by reading children’s books over Facebook.

Monday morning, while working a shift as a Rumford reserve police officer, Maifeld took a video of himself as he read three books: “Never Talk to Strangers” by Irma Joyce; “Ducks Eat Pancakes” by Kate Curit; and “Thidwick The Big-Hearted Moose” by Dr. Seuss.

The feedback was immediate and positive.

One mom, Krista Lee of Rumford, posted, “Hey Doug, wanted to thank you for your reading videos. Our little girl loves watching them.”

Another Rumford mom, Tiffany Libby, said, “Madilyn (daughter) and I love listening to you read to us! Thank you so much! Stay safe.”

Maifeld, who also teaches DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), credited Meroby Elementary School teacher Kaitlyn Virgin with the idea for officers to read the books to children.

“I had just been into her class to read and she said, ‘Hey, do you think you or any of the guys at the PD would be interested in reading?’,” Maifeld said.

Maifeld followed through by asking his fellow officers.

“I thought it would be a good idea to read to these kids,” he said. “Officer (Brad) Gallant actually went to RES (Rumford Elementary School) on Friday and got a big old stack of books from Ms. (Jill) Bartash (principal) for some of the guys to read.”

“Today was the first day I was working in uniform and I decided to read a few of them,” Maifeld said.

He said Officer Gallant also plans to read books online, and “We’re kind of hoping other officers will as well.”

Maifeld said he’s assisting an effort to revive the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page and plans to post the readings on that site so that children from other schools in the county can enjoy the books, too.

He also shared the posts with RES and Peru Elementary School Facebook pages.

“I’m hoping it gives kids something to do,” said Maifeld, adding that if anyone has a book request to let him know. “If I can get hold of the book, I’ll read that, too.”

From this experience, Maifeld said he did find Dr. Seuss books are a little more difficult to read out loud.

Before becoming a school resource officer, Maifeld was a police sergeant. He retired earlier this year, but remains on the force as a reserve officer.

He noted the police department still hasn’t been able to fill his position.

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