FARMINGTON – Farmington Police Department recently welcomed two officers to the force, one returning and one new to the area.
Officer Matthew Brann began his law enforcement career at Farmington PD in 2004, where he worked as a patrol officer until 2009. During his time at the department he took advantage of various training opportunities, including a crisis intervention training offered by NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illnesses.
In 2009, Brann changed jobs to work at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office. For the next ten and a half years he worked in the patrol division, advancing to the rank of Patrol Sergeant. In summer of 2020 he left the sheriff’s office to take a job teaching the Law Enforcement program at the Foster Tech Center.
“I really liked the interaction with the students,” Brann said.
Ultimately, Brann wanted to work with students, especially those in high school. High school is often a challenging time, but it is also a formative period for many; Brann saw an opportunity to create a lasting impact in the lives of students and provide a positive influence they could carry with them into adulthood.
When Officer Bridgette Gilbert retired from her role as School Resource Officer, Brann looked to fill that vacancy.
Chief of Police Kenneth Charles said he felt Brann has the right demeanor for the job; he is familiar with the area, with the students and staff at Mt. Blue, and he has training and experience that lends itself to the community policing aspect required in the SRO position.
As the SRO for Farmington PD, Brann will work four days a week at the high school and one day a week at the middle school. He will be available as a resource for students, teachers and staff within RSU 9, although his law enforcement jurisdiction is limited to the town of Farmington.
Brann, who lives in New Vineyard with his wife and three kids, said he is looking forward to the new adventure. He expects to remain in this position for a long time: he wanted to serve in a similar role with the sheriff’s office, but the opportunity never presented itself. “This is where I want to be,” he said.
Officer Ethan Whitney joined the department this summer. A Rhode Island native, Whitney attended the University of Rhode Island, earning a degree in Criminology and Sociology. Following graduation he worked as a direct support professional for individuals with severe mental health issues. While the pandemic made his job extra challenging at times, he found the experience rewarding.
Whitney’s brother lives in Farmington, and sent him the job posting for a patrol officer with the department. He relocated to the area and began training locally, working primarily with Officer Ethan Boyd. He will likely attend the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in January for the BLETP (Basic Law Enforcement Training Program) assuming the classes run without impediment.
Chief Charles spoke enthusiastically about having Whitney on board, and said that his hands-on experience working in the mental health field will be an asset for the department. Two of the biggest challenges the department faces today are mental and behavioral health issues and the opioid epidemic, so experience in these areas is invaluable.
In addition, Chief Charles said the department has had multiple emails and comments from community members praising Whitney’s interactions while performing traffic stops and answering calls.
“I’m still finding my footing,” Whitney said, “But I couldn’t ask for a better place to be.”