Come the end of this week, Searsport Police Sgt. Steve Saucier will take the next step in his plan for a lifelong career in law enforcement when he joins the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office.

Saucier, a 1999 graduate of Searsport District High School, began that career when he was hired as a reserve officer at his hometown police department in May 2002. After receiving his training at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, Saucier became a full-time officer in July 2004.

When asked how he decided to get into the law enforcement field, Saucier’s response suggested that he had considered a career in public safety since his childhood.

“I think every little boy wants to grow up to be some kind of hero, whether it’s a fireman or a police officer,” he said.

As a youth growing up in Searsport, Saucier was always surrounded by people who were either in the field already, or were considering becoming police officers themselves. Saucier’s best friend from high school, Jonah O’Roak, is now a Maine State Police Trooper and the two work together often. Saucier said he spent a lot of time with the O’Roak family as a kid, which is how he got to know his best friend’s father, Charlie, who is a probation officer.

Saucier also grew to know then-Searsport Police Chief James Gillway, who these days works as the Searsport town manager and was recently elected to the Maine Legislature. When Saucier was in elementary school, however, Gillway was often present in the schools as a Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer. Through that community policing initiative, commonly known as DARE, Saucier said he got to know Gillway and would talk to him about being a police officer.

“Just being around those people who wanted to make a difference, I think that’s probably the reason I leaned towards law enforcement,” said Saucier, who is large in stature and who is admittedly reluctant to talk much about himself.

As time went on, Saucier found that his largest area of interest was drug investigations. He attended training provided through the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, and worked closely with Detective Merl Reed of the Waldo County Sheriff’s Office, a partnership Saucier said was invaluable to him.

“I really have to thank Merl a lot,” said Saucier. “He’s really taken me under his wing.”

Drug investigations, said Saucier, are an important part of law enforcement for a number of reasons.

“When you tend to deal with juveniles who have been influenced to try drugs, and when you see the way it affects their lives, and their families’ lives, and you see kids are [overdosing], that tends to eat at you,” he said.

Saucier noted that crimes like burglaries and thefts usually have some kind of drug involvement, as well, making drug abuse a problem that affects the entire community.

Saucier moved into the acting sergeant’s position after former Searsport Police Chief Mark Pooler left the chief’s post just over three years ago. During that time, Saucier continued with his daily duties as an officer, and led the department until Searsport Police Chief Dick LaHaye came on board in late 2007.

LaHaye remembers when he first met Saucier, and how impressed he was with Saucier’s handling of the responsibilities of a chief while the department was searching for Pooler’s replacement. So impressed, in fact, that LaHaye made Saucier’s sergeant status official in the spring of 2008.

LaHaye said it’s rare to have an officer in the department who grew up in the town he serves, and that the people of Searsport will sorely miss Saucier. But, he added, Searsport’s loss will be a huge gain for Penobscot County.

“The Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office is going to get a well-groomed, well-trained police officer,” said LaHaye.

Saucier recalled some experiences he’s had as a Searsport officer, one of which involved O’Roak, who was working with Saucier one night shortly after Saucier joined the Searsport department. Saucier couldn’t remember the nature of the initial complaint, but he said he and O’Roak went to a residence were unable to get a response from anyone inside when they knocked on the door and identified themselves. But the officers heard some things that made them investigate the situation further.

“We could hear the sounds of somebody moaning inside the house, but nobody was responding to the door, so we went in,” Saucier said.

What the officers found, Saucier said, was a completely unexpected sight. Apparently, an older couple were in what looked to be an intimate situation, and both the man and the woman were acting incoherent. Beside the couple’s bed, on a nightstand, was a large bowl filled with a mixture of M&Ms, peanuts and an assortment of unknown pills. Out of concern for the couple’s well-being, the officers contacted the ambulance service to obtain medical attention for the man and the woman.

“Seeing the M&Ms, peanuts and pills all in one bowl, like a party mix, I think that was one of the weirder calls,” Saucier said, with a facial expression that suggested the situation still puzzled him to this day.

Saucier acknowledged that another of his co-workers, Officer Jessica Danielson, will be wrapping up her work with the department about a week after he leaves the department. He stressed that his and Danielson’s simultaneous departures were not planned.

“The most difficult part of leaving for me is knowing that the chief is in the position he’s in,” said Saucier. “It wasn’t a planned thing. I just had an opportunity to work with a department that I really wanted to work for. Things just kind of happened all at once.”

The move to Penobscot County will also allow Saucier to spend more time with his family, as he currently resides in Glenburn and is looking forward to having a shorter commute. Saucier added that he hopes to stay with Penobscot County until his retirement.

“It shouldn’t be any surprise to anybody that I was looking to move closer to home,” said Saucier, who currently has a 50-minute commute to work, each way.

Saucier said rumors that have swept the community indicating that LaHaye is the reason for the two officers’ leaving the department are false, and he expressed nothing but admiration and appreciation for the man he has worked under for the past few years.

“He’s been great, he’s always been very supportive of my interests, and he’s always fought for us to get the things the department needs,” said Saucier of LaHaye. “He’s given us all the tools we’ve needed to do our jobs to the best of our abilities.”

Saucier said he knows working for a larger department like Penobscot County will be busier, but he is looking forward to working with some of the officers he already knows in the region, and building on his career.

Even though Saucier will be leaving the department where he started his career, as well as leaving the community where he grew up, he said he intends to maintain the relationships he’s built over the years.

“Probably the biggest thing I’ll miss is the friendships I’ve made, obviously with all of the people here, and the guys at the sheriff’s department and the Belfast Police Department,” Saucier said. “A lot of those guys have really helped me to develop as a law enforcement officer along the way.”

The Searsport Police Department will be holding an open house Saturday, Dec. 11, 3-5 p.m. The public and members of other local law enforcement agencies are invited to come enjoy some refreshments and say goodbye to Saucer and Danielson.