Former Police Chief to be recognized on National Memorial

By Gabriel Blodgett | Jan 14, 2020
Courtesy of: National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund Former Rockport Police Chief Perley Morrison Sprague has been accepted to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Rockport — Former Rockport Police Chief Perley Morrison Sprague has been honored with inclusion in the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C.

His name will be formally dedicated on the memorial, which honors officers who have died in the line of duty, on May 13 at the 32nd Annual Candlelight Vigil during National Police Week.

Sprague died Nov. 15, 1996 at the age of 48, but it was not until 2019, that Camden and Rockport Police Chief Randy Gagne realized, while doing research, that Sprague’s name had never been submitted for inclusion.

At the Jan. 13 Rockport Select Board meeting, Gagne said “Tonight’s been a long time coming,” and Sprague “rightfully belongs on the wall.”

In his submission letter to the Memorial Fund, which built and maintains the Memorial, Gagne wrote that Sprague had an outsize impact on his own life.

Gagne wrote that as a child he was a member of the “Boys Brigade,” a Christian Youth Group at the Chestnut Street Baptist Church in Camden. Sprague, who at the time worked as a State Marine Patrol Officer, would often volunteer with the group, “most times arriving straight from work in his uniform.”

Gagne called Sprague a “mentor, friend, and colleague,” and went on to say “his commitment to this group made a lasting impression on a young boy who would one day also become a career Police Officer.”

In the Marine Patrol, Gagne said Sprague rose through the ranks, eventually retiring in the early 1990s as Colonel.

Sprague then became Chief of Police in Rockport in 1996.

Gagne said Sprague, “came to Rockport with new ideas for hiring, training, and equipping his officers,” and one of his first orders of business was instituting “mandatory Physical Assessment Testing for officers and potential officer candidates.”

On Nov. 15, 1996, while conducting physical testing, Sprague began running with potential employee Joel Neal on his last lap as a show of support. As Neal approached the finish line, Sprague suffered a major cardiac event and later died at the hospital.

Gagne called Sprague’s death, “a major loss to our Law Enforcement community.”

Gagne said that there had been several attempts to get Sprague’s name on the Maine Officers Memorial, but although there is some momentum to change the acceptance criteria for the state, Sprague does not qualify.

While doing research on the state memorial, Gagne discovered that Sprague’s name had never been considered for national recognition. Gagne submitted Sprague’s name for approval on the Memorial on April 25, 2019. He was notified that Sprague was accepted on Nov. 25, 2019.

Mark Kelley, who succeeded Sprague as Rockport Police Chief, former Camden Police Chief Terry Burgess, and Neal, who is now a Rockland Police Detective, also lent their support for Sprague’s inclusion.

 

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