2017-04-14 / In the Know

Police chief receives Heroes with Heart award

By B. Michael Thurlow Special to the Leader

This past Wednesday night Police Chief Robbie Moulton was honored with a Heroes with Heart award presented by the Trauma Intervention Program or TIP.

TIP is a national volunteer program that was founded in 1985. The local chapter was established in Portland in 2004 and Scarborough joined a few years later.

TIP works in collaboration with, and at the request of Scarborough and several other greater Portland area first responder agencies, as well as Maine Medical Center, to provide emotional support services to victims and families during the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event.

These can include serious car accidents, traumatic injuries, or cardiac arrests, when victims and their family members often feel helpless, confused and in emotional shock.

TIP is a nonprofit and even though its volunteers donate their time there are still administrative and other costs incurred to maintain this valuable service.

One of TIP’s most successful fundraisers is their annual Heroes with Heart event. Nominations are solicited from the various public safety agencies that work with TIP and each year a number of awards are bestowed on those public servants who have gone above and beyond to provide support and assist those in need throughout our communities.

The members of our Scarborough Public Safety family were extremely proud to learn that Chief Moulton was recognized at this year’s ceremony for his leadership and support for Operation HOPE and many of us attended the ceremony to show our support.

Operation HOPE (Heroin Opiate Prevention Effort) is an innovative program that provides compassionate assistance to those experiencing substance use disorder which causes pain and suffering, ruins lives, tears many families apart and all too often results in death.

The program was inspired and modeled after a similar, successful effort undertaken by the Gloucester, Massachusetts Police Department.

The Scarborough Police Department was the first agency in Maine to recognize the extent of this crisis, and to develop this program and officially opened Oct. 1, 2015.

The program has been emulated by many others and helped start a statewide dialogue which has now spread to our Congressional delegation in Washington, D.C..

In the 18 months this program has existed over 500 individuals from Scarborough and the surrounding area have come to the police station looking for assistance with addiction, and almost 250 of them have been successfully placed in residential treatment facilities.

The vast majority of those individuals did not have insurance or money to pay for transportation costs to the many facilities all over the country that accept them. Since police officers and departments in Maine are not legally allowed to solicit donations, Chief Moulton partnered with Project G.R.A.C.E. (Granting Resources and Assistance through Community Effort) a very well respected Scarborough nonprofit that serves as a fiduciary for the program.

Chief Moulton, like most great leaders, often deflects this type of recognition to others. He is quick to praise the officer that originally brought the idea to him for consideration, the Portland Recovery Center which has been a tremendous partner, or to the dozens of staff members and volunteers that actually administer the program day in and day out. But the reality is revolutionary programs like this don’t exist or flourish without a leader like Chief Moulton recognizing a need, allocating resources, advocating tirelessly for it and building relationships with a wide-range of stakeholders to make it happen.

There is no doubt that Operation HOPE has saved dozens of lives and positively impacted hundreds of family members.

Chief Moulton grew up and is a life-long property owner in Scarborough. He joined the police department in 1977 as a reserve officer and was hired as a full time patrol officer in 1978. Robbie quickly rose through the ranks and became police chief in 1999.

Operation HOPE is just one of dozens of examples of Chief Moulton’s compassion and care for the citizens and visitors of Scarborough.

His peers, coworkers, and public safety family are all very proud of this well deserved recognition as a 2017 TIP Heroes with Heart award recipient.

Congratulations and thank you chief.

B. Michael Thurlow is fire chief for Scarborough.

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