I don’t know what your idea of a police chief is. Probably Andy Taylor of Mayberry. He would be stern, wise, commanding, with strong judgment.

Al Ockenfels, former Rockland police chief, was like that. He was intensely proud of his German heritage and the Ockenfels castle. He was always perfectly dressed, with spit-shined shoes, not a single hair out of place. He was not a huge man, but he would have you face down on the sidewalk, handcuffed before you knew it.

Ockenfels, age 72, died from a massive stroke Saturday, Jan. 13. His memorial service was Saturday, Jan. 20, at the Burpee, Carpenter & Hutchins Funeral Home in Rockland.

He was a man of wide and varied experience. I first met Al when he was a Down East Airlines pilot, testifying before the National Transportation Safety Board regarding the airplane crash in Owls Head in 1979. When he introduced me for the next 30 years, he would say “Emmet ruined my career in aviation, then he ruined my career in law enforcement.”

We were the strangest of friends. He was a Nixon Republican who served on the national board of the National Rifle Association. I was a Kennedy Democrat from Boston. But we were both city boys and wise guys who loved to insult each other and anyone else within range.

He had a drop-dead, deadpan delivery and you believed anything he said. He conned me into a supposed DEA raid one night. I walked into the Rockland Golf Club for the “raid” and found a surprise party for my 50th birthday. Al handcuffed me to a chair and everyone had great fun roasting me for the rest of the night.

Al came to the Rockland Police Department in 1979 and he rose through the ranks to become chief in 1989. He served for 16 years as chief while the Lobster City evolved from a wild fishing town with an astronomical crime rate into a gentle art community. Some residents are still dizzy from the change.

Al was the most demanding restaurant customer of all time. I would warn every waitress of that before we ordered. But no matter how demanding and finicky he was, the waitress would love it, and him. He loved the ladies almost as much as they loved him. When he walked his wonder dog, Taser, in Camden parks, females from 4 to 80 would stop him to say hello.

Later in life, he took one of those tests and found out he had 20 percent Irish blood. Some of us always suspected it.

On his many nighttime patrols, the Irish blood would rise. I learned that one December night when I returned from Boston and stopped at the Pik Quik gas station to get the latest Courier-Gazette. You had to keep up with the Courier. When I went outside, my car was gone. I had stupidly left my car running during a snowstorm.

I saw a cruiser at the car wash next door and ran to report the theft. When I got to the car, there was Al, laughing uproariously. He had driven the car and stashed it behind Pik Quik, and then ran back to his cruiser.

Andy of Mayberry never stole cars.

I was not alone. He would take any friend’s car that he found with the keys in it. Sometimes the Irish blood just took over.

My favorite Al story was when our mutual friend Grady was considering moving from her apartment to my house, Cobb Manor. She and I had several coffee shop discussions about the move, including the possible purchase of a washer and dryer to eliminate laundromat visits and bills. One dark and stormy night when Grady was returning to her apartment after having a few lemonades, she noticed a cruiser following her down South Main Street.

Grady quickly pulled into her driveway, hoping that the cruiser would continue south. It did not. It pulled in behind her and turned on the searchlights. Grady was in full panic. “Give Emmet the money for the washer and dryer,” Al yelled over the loudspeaker. He backed out and drove away leaving Grady a quivering mess.

Grady was a favorite target. When she later moved to an apartment in Gardiner, Al had an appointment in the city early one Sunday morning. He had his charming daughter Kristen with him and hatched a diabolic plot. He went to Grady’s apartment house, rang the bell and hid.

He left his 7-year- old daughter at the door. When the sleepy-eyed Grady opened the door, Kristen asked “Is my father in there?”

The press corps was always leery of the chief. When a Portland Press Herald reporter was making his way home one beery night, he saw a cruiser pull up beside him at a red light. The officer in the car waited for the reporter to roll his window down, and then Al asked “Breath or blood?”

“Not funny” the reporter said the next day. Yes, it was.

When he retired in 2005, Al went to Afghanistan, training city police forces. He saw enemy rockets screaming overhead and plucked an enemy bullet from the sand, a few inches from his foot. He ran for county sheriff in 2006. He ousted incumbent Dan Davey in the primary, but lost the November three-way election by 400 votes.

Naturally we called him “sheriff” from that day forward. I saved his huge election sign for the summer Cobb Manor parties, just to rub it in. It did not bother him a bit. I think he liked it.

Bored with retirement, Al started substitute-teaching in Camden and Rockland schools. Even he was surprised how well he did.

We argued and insulted each other every time we met. It never stopped.

Now it has. And I shall miss him terribly.

Emmet Meara was a longtime journalist in the Midcoast.