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Jim Penney: Biddeford Police Department

The time is 3:30 p.m. Biddeford Police officer Jim Penney relaxes on his couch on a rare day off. He rests because he knows he will be waking up at 5:20 am the next morning to get ready to go to work where anything can happen.

“I start my day at 5:20 in the morning at home. I get out of bed, take a shower, eat breakfast, go into work for about 6:10, get all my equipment on,” Penney said.

“We have what is called roll call around 6:30 to go over what everyone has done on the other shifts for the last night and early morning shifts. After that, we go down and get our equipment and paperwork ready for our day. We get our cruisers ready, check all the equipment, then you go out on the street and start your patrol.”

Penney is entering his 19th year as a Biddeford Police officer. He loves hsi job and says ever since he was a young child he wanted to become an officer of the law.

“I grew up in Portland as a kid. I knew growing up that I wanted to be a police officer because I had family members that were police officers and my friends’ parents were police officers,” Penney said.

After high school, Penney went into the military where he joined the army.
As a member of the 82nd Airborne, Penney spent four years in the army traveling America and the world.

“I’ve been to Panama, I’ve been to Guam, Japan, and all over the United States,” Penney said.

Penney left the army in 1996 and joined the Biddeford Police Department in 2000. After almost 19 years of service, he still believes that most people don’t truly know what his duties are.

“I believe there is a lot of things that people don’t realize that the police do. It can be difficult at times but self-fufilling at times also, helping people,” Penney said.

Helping people is what Penney likes most about the job.

“I like dealing with people, talking to people, communicating with people, and trying to help people,” Penney said.

But Penney knows not all people will like him.

“It’s a two-way street,” Penney said, “People are either going to like you or they are going to dislike you and I have helped a lot of people over the years. I think I have turned some people’s lives around. I have had people approach me, that I don’t remember, thanking me for helping them.” This rare appreciation makes the many difficult situations worthwhile.

Penney says through this years of service he has seen it all.

“I’ve been to bank robberies, pharmacy robberies, stabbings, we go to bank alarms, store alarms. I’ve been to suicides. I’ve known people who have been killed in homicides, dealt with people that have later been killed in homicides, drug arrests, been on drug raids out of state.”

Due to his service in the military Penney is able to retire in 2.5 years after 21 years of police service. He is not completely sure if he will retire then and if he does what he will do, but he looks forward to spending time with his family.

In the twilight of his career, Penny has seen much. He will always carry with him the lessons that the police force has taught him including what he says to be the most important lesson.

“People who aren’t who you think they really are,” Penney said.

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