2013-02-22 / People

South Portland detective treats ‘people like people’

By Jack Flagler
Staff Writer

Det. Chris Todd Det. Chris Todd Detective Chris Todd of the South Portland Police Department recently had the unenviable task of bringing someone convicted of a crime to jail. He had testified at a trial of a 20-year-old female charged with aggravated assault.When the suspect’s appeal was denied, she was convicted and sentenced to a year in prison.

As is customary, Todd said, the court gave the woman a few days to get her affairs in order before she had to report to jail. When that window of time ran out, Todd had to retrieve the woman from her mother’s house, serve an arrest warrant and bring the woman to Cumberland County Jail.

A few days after that encounter, when the South Portland Police Department posted Todd as the department’s 2012 Officer of the Year, Todd said he said he noticed an interesting response.

The woman’s mother wrote an entry commending Todd for his professionalism and kindness, days after he had taken her daughter away to jail for a year.

Todd’s compassionate and level-headed demeanor has been “noted by his co-workers and victims alike,” wrote Sgt. Steve Webster in a media release announcing the Officer of the Year award. Police department supervisors selected Todd as the award winner from the list of police who were named Officer of the Month in 2012.

“It’s all in how you treat people. You can show up to any call and you can be a jerk and they’re going to be a jerk right back to you,” Todd said. “Or, you can show up and just treat people like people, and 90 percent of the time they’ll reciprocate it.”

Todd, 35, has worked as a detective with the department’s Criminal Investigation Division since 2010, and has been on the force since 2000. Detectives work on felony cases such as financial crimes, which Todd said have been increasing in recent years, sex crimes, certain drug violations and serious assault cases.

The handful of detectives in South Portland’s police force bring a case from the early stages of interviewing witnesses or victims to the court level, working with the District Attorney’s office and sometimes testifying in court.

The Criminal Investigation Division works on a number of complex and highprofile cases, but Todd said one that stood out from the rest this year was a robbery at the TD Bank in July.

A woman entered the bank near the Maine Mall after saying she needed to go inside to make a withdrawal. She told the teller she had a gun, and left with an undisclosed amount of cash. From there, Todd picked up the case, investigating cell phone records and surveillance video.

“We put a lot of hours in working that case and built a pretty solid air tight case against her,” Todd said.

Less than a week after the robbery, police arrested Jamilee Kus of Waterville for robbery and theft. Todd tracked Kus’s cell phone for both texts and its GPS location. When she travelled from New York back into Maine on July 7, police were ready to arrest her.

“We knew she was coming, and we had a head start. We followed her into Cumberland County, and had State Troopers waiting right across the Scarborough line,” Todd said.

Currently, Todd and the other detectives in the department are working to track down three suspects they believed robbed a pizza delivery driver in the Olde English Village apartment complex parking lot.

Todd said one of the hardest parts of his job is prioritizing the cases that come across his desk. While every crime is of the utmost importance to a victim, a case like the recent Olde English Village robbery, in which a gun and knife were present, presents more of a threat to the community than others.

This year marks the second time Todd has been named the department’s Officer of the Year. He previously won the award in 2008. The South Portland City Council will honor Todd at its meeting Monday, March 4. He will also receive a plaque, award pin, and two days off with pay.

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