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BANGOR – To think that it all started with a Facebook page.

Odds are good that if you live in or around these parts, you’re familiar with the work of Tim Cotton of the Bangor Police Department. You might not necessarily know it, but you are.

Cotton – or TC, as he often identifies himself – is the driving force behind the social media phenomenon that is the Bangor PD Facebook page. Over the course of a few years, Cotton built the page’s following into a genuine grassroots juggernaut, with literally hundreds of thousands of people checking in to see what TC had to say.

The page’s success hinged on TC’s unusual approach to social media. He eschewed every bit of conventional wisdom with regards to building a page’s profile. They say you should always have pictures; TC rarely includes them. They say you should keep posts short and sweet; TC stops when he’s finished and not a word before.

And yet – it works. It probably shouldn’t, but it does.

It works because Cotton brings a consistent collegiality to the proceedings. He has a self-deprecating sense of humor that manages to carry a little bit of snark without ever becoming mean-spirited – no easy feat. He is someone who is passionate about his work and his community – a passion that carries through everything that he writes. There’s nothing disingenuous here; everything comes from a place of honesty.

But now, it seems that he has written something a good deal longer than even his longest Facebook post – a book.

Cotton’s new book is titled “The Detective in the Dooryard,” published by Down East Books. It’s a collection of short pieces that do a wonderful job in encapsulating the TC experience. It is packed with the same genial storytelling that made the Facebook page such a success.

(It’s worth noting that the book is proving wildly popular. Be sure to reach out to your local bookstore to place an order if you haven’t been lucky enough to land your copy already.)

As you might imagine, TC’s a pretty busy guy right now, what with a book hitting shelves added to his duties with the Bangor PD. And yet, despite all of that, he was generous enough to take the time to answer a few questions The Maine Edge sent his way. He discusses how the book came about and what his process is like, as well as the people and ideas that influenced him as a writer. 

(Check out our full review of the book here.)

Published in Cover Story

Anyone who has worked the same job for a long time likely has their share of stories. And if that job involves regular interactions with the public, they probably have even more. And if said public isn’t always thrilled about those interactions, well … you get the point. Stories. Lots of them.

Tim Cotton certainly has all of those bases covered as a veteran police officer, having served for more than three decades in a variety of capacities. He’s got the stories for sure. But unlike the majority of his peers, he’s taken the time to write some of them down.

That writing started in earnest with Cotton’s assumption of the position of Public Information Officer for the Bangor PD, a job whose duties included updating and maintaining the department’s Facebook page. He started sharing his thoughts and stories about the job on that page (along with a healthy helping of the Duck of Justice, an old stuffed duck whose origin has become the stuff of legend), as well as a delightful regular feature titled “Got Warrants?” where he related the week’s particularly ridiculous incidents.

Before long, literally hundreds of thousands of people – nearly 10 times the city’s population – were following the page, all of them eagerly anticipating TC’s latest bit of homespun hilarity. Soon, Cotton’s writing was appearing elsewhere, popping up in newspapers and on various websites.

The logical next step? Write a book!

Hence, we get “The Detective in the Dooryard: Reflections of a Maine Cop” (Down East, $24.95), a collection of thoughts, musings and anecdotes about the world as seen through the eyes of one particular (and kind of peculiar) police officer. These tales are brief, breezy reads that embrace the idea of sharing stories that might not make their way into the local paper’s police beat, but warrant (see what I did there?) telling nevertheless.

Published in Buzz

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