BELFAST — Belfast Police Chief Gerry Lincoln wanted to be in law enforcement from an early age, but it was a goal he did not meet until later in life after a career in the military. Now he is retiring after spending the last two years as the city’s police chief. His last day at the department was Feb. 22.

Lincoln ascended to the position of chief after former Chief Mike McFadden retired from the department in late 2019. Lincoln was hired as the chief full time shortly after. Since then, he has overseen a department made up of young officers and those early in their careers.

He wanted to be a police officer as a boy, but was too young to go into law enforcement out of high school, so he joined the military because he was told some of the skills learned there could translate into a law enforcement career, he said. He joined the Air National Guard out of high school and went to security police training, he said. He was in the Guard until 1986, when he entered flight school. He finished flight school in 1987 and flew KC196 aircraft from that point on, both for the U.S. Air Force and the Air National Guard.

His career in military aviation had him flying planes all around the world and he spent a long time in air crew training, he said. He also helped provide humanitarian aid. He went to college and received an associate degree in applied science, then earned a bachelor’s degree in aviation management.

When he retired from the military in 2008 as a lieutenant colonel command pilot, he had clocked almost 5,000 hours of flight time, he said. He considered working in the commercial flight industry, but wanted a job that was closer to home with less traveling, so he decided to go to the Maine Criminal Justice Academy and pursue a career in law enforcement.

When he got to the academy, he was one of the oldest cadets, he said. Detective Sgt. Daniel Fitzpatrick of the Belfast Police Department went to the academy with Lincoln. He said the chief was always punctual and set a good example for others. He was the class president.

After graduating from the academy, Lincoln went to work for the Waldo County Sherriff’s Office until 2017, when he came to the Belfast Police Department as a detective sergeant. Shortly after, he took the position of deputy chief in 2018, a position McFadden had reinstated in the department that year.

Fitzpatrick described Lincoln as a knowledgeable man. Lincoln’s leadership style is compassionate and he listens to people. He always tries to keep things going well in an occupation where there is a lot of “grey area.” He thinks it was only natural for Lincoln to succeed McFadden.

Lincoln is easygoing and works well with city officials and City Council, Fitzpatrick said. He thinks the next chief has big shoes to fill and that Lincoln’s leadership will be missed. He said Lincoln has been a good role model for the young officers in the department.

Councilors shared their gratitude to Lincoln in a Feb. 2 press release and recognized his leadership of the department through the pandemic.

“During Gerry Lincoln’s tenure as the Chief of the Belfast Police Department, the city and the department have endured some troubled times,” City Councilor Neal Harkness said. “We have been fortunate to have a leader as efficient and thoughtful as Chief Lincoln in command. The people of Belfast owe him their profoundest gratitude.”

Mayor Eric Sanders wished Lincoln a good retirement. “I’d like to thank the Chief for his service to the City, and wish him a happy retirement, as long as he keeps me posted on his fishing holes,” Sanders said. “In all seriousness, it was a tremendous honor to work with him, and he accomplished many, many things in a short period of time as our Chief of Police.  He will be greatly remembered, and greatly missed!”

Lincoln hopes to fill his retirement with hobbies like hunting and other outdoor activities, he said. He added that he is proud to have served the Belfast community.

Lincoln wants people to know “that they can trust their Police Department, that it is a good department and the people that are in the department are there for their best interest, to help out the community and be there for the community.”