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Governor’s Address: Remembering Corporal Eugene Cole

When Attorney General Mike Carpenter first dedicated the Maine Law Enforcement Officers Memorial to our fallen officers back in 1991, he declared “there never should be in the State of Maine another name added to it.”

With solemn grief and a renewed commitment to fulfilling that promise, we all gathered this week to add the eighty-sixth name to that memorial.

While the men whose names are chiseled into the law enforcement memorial departed this life in supreme acts of sacrifice, that is not the only thing they had in common. For those individuals – every one of them – the rule of law was not some dusty book sitting on a shelf or some set of bygone beliefs enshrined on a faded plaque. 

The law to them was, as it is to us, a promise, a guiding principal governing how we treat one another, and the key to preserving the precious peace, fragile security, and enduring freedom of our communities. The rule of law was what they lived for, what they kept in their hearts, and what they died for.

As District Attorney, and as Attorney General, Maine’s top law enforcement officer, I saw the bravery and kindness of these individuals first-hand. They inspire me still, and I think about them every day.

This past Thursday, as we added one more name to the memorial, I thought about Corporal Eugene Cole of the Somerset Sheriff’s Department. He lived in Norridgewock, a town that loved him as much as he loved them. He lost his life protecting the people of his town.

He served in the army and was a rural patrol deputy for the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office before being promoted to Corporal. Like his brothers and sisters in law enforcement, he dedicated his career to helping Maine families and was a constant source of support for other deputies and members of law enforcement across the state.

He was steady, kind, and compassionate, known for keeping a level head, even in the dark moments of the job. Community policing was not some chapter in a law enforcement manual for Gene Cole. It was in his blood. He knew his community, and his community knew and respected him and listened to him.

Cpl. Eugene Cole was also a father of four and grandfather of nine children who called him “Bampie.” He was a dedicated husband and a guitarist and songwriter in the bands Borderline Express and the Cole Brothers. 

Cpl. Cole’s end of watch came on April 25, 2018, when he was shot and killed in the line of duty. 

His wife of 41 years, Sheryl Cole, asks of us: “To honor Corporal Eugene Cole, follow in his footsteps. Be kind. Help your fellow man. It doesn’t matter what your job is, how big your house is, or how much you paid for your car. We are all the same race – the human race. Treat each other as such. Let this be part of his legacy,” she wrote.

During a time of unimaginable grief, Sheryl has shared her husband with us in death as she did in life, as so many Maine law enforcement families do every day. 

Tragedy can strike everywhere. No police department and no community is immune. But remember, we live in a state full of thoughtful and kind people, including the 86 men whose names are on the Law Enforcement Memorial stone.

As we remember these men, let us remember to be kind, to stay healthy, and to care for one another, both on duty and off. Let us also remember always our own humanity and theirs.

May peace envelope all of you today and every day as we remember these 86 officers whose lives were dedicated to the rule of law, the men whose world we share still in an unbroken compact born of sacrifice and solemnity, a commitment to be the best individuals we can be – the most protective, the most unselfish, the most civil in our common humanity, and the most caring of our human community.

God bless these departed souls. 

Thank you.

Janet Mills  

Governor 

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