Michael J. McFadden III has been named the new chief of the Belfast Police Department, coming out on top of a field of 50 applicants and returning to lead the department where he got his start.

McFadden worked as a full-time officer with the Belfast Police Department for nearly two decades, rising to the rank of detective, and has most recently served with the Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit, working out of an office in Vassalboro. He currently resides in Belfast.

Asked after his confirmation by the City Council on Dec. 20 why he applied to be the city’s police chief, McFadden spoke of personal and professional reasons for wanting to come back to Belfast.

“It’s where I live. It’s my home,” he said, “I essentially grew up in this police department, so it’s where I want to be.”

McFadden said he would likely continue to do some investigative work with the State Police Computer Crimes Unit, describing the type of investigations he has been involved with over the past two years as “simply too important for me to turn my back on.”

The police chief position had been open since October when Jeffrey Trafton resigned to serve as chief deputy at the Waldo County Sheriff’s Office. Sgt. Walter Corey has been serving as interim chief since that time.

City Manager Joe Slocum, who ultimately recommended McFadden, reviewed the applications with a seven-member committee composed of city officials, business owners, representatives of social service agencies and the outgoing police chief. The group interviewed nine top prospects.

Slocum said McFadden had the right combination of local and outside experiences and gave an excellent interview.

On the hiring process, Slocum said the group considered a number of factors raised by committee members in response to the question: What do we want in a new police chief?

Among other things, the group felt the person should be sensitive to local issues or the kinds of issues that arise in a city like Belfast, where residents come from a wide range of backgrounds and means.

“From people who have plenty to people who have nothing,” Slocum said.

Members of the committee wanted someone who would work well with other law enforcement agencies, who would come across as approachable by senior citizens, youth, and others from demographics that are sometimes marginalized, and work with local social service organizations on issues like domestic violence.

Slocum said McFadden stood out on many of these points and the committee backed the manager’s exclusive recommendation of the former Belfast detective.

As has become customary of new hires, Slocum said he performed a background check on McFadden through a non-police service.

“‘Pure as the driven snow,’ is what they came back with,” said Slocum. “They asked me if I wanted it in writing and I said, ‘[No,] that’s good enough for me.”

McFadden will receive a starting salary of $61,000 per year, which Slocum said was within “a couple hundred” dollars of what Trafton earned. According to preliminary figures from a comparative study being undertaken by the city, the salary is also consistent with other municipalities of similar size and demographics.

Slocum said McFadden’s would likely start within a week, but no official start date has been set.