UNION — “That is one thing that I enjoy about this county, that everybody will help when it comes down to the wire,” said Knox County Sheriff Patrick Polky (effective Aug. 1, 2022). Click here to see the swearing-in ceremony.
On the night of July 31, after 9 p.m., a medical call regarding an older individual at the Union Fair turned into a massive search for a three year old. The spouse or the patient, who was transported to a local hospital, mentioned a young child attending the fair with them. When officials looked around, the child was out of sight and presumed to have been spooked into hiding from the medical team on the populous fairground.
With that, a missing child report was initiated and Knox County deputies jumped into action.
One deputy happened to already be on the fairgrounds, assigned to a shift there. Soon there were four deputies. An hour later, six more were en route to help. And that doesn’t include the Waldoboro police who heard the call, or the State Trooper who arrived while another was en route from the Waterville area. KRCC dispatchers made numerous phone calls and fielded radio information and requests. And there were the volunteer Union firefighters. And the thousands of fair goers who heeded the situation and joined the search.
At times, when a sighting was investigated, the person informed of the sighting would run to that location.
The sense of community is strong here, according to Polky. It’s why people from away continue to see this as a great area full of attributes that allow an escape from polarized political world views and to allow themselves to join a force greater than themselves.
It’s a place where “you as an individual matter, but you matter to the community,” he said.
“Last night really showcased that,” said Polky.
The situation was ebb and flow, according to him. You’re not really sure what you’re dealing with, causing the need for more law enforcement on the ground.
In this case, darkness confounded the issue, and the crowds kept one search tool off the table. A few years ago, a K9 was able to track down a missing individual in a blueberry field because of rural terrain that greatly limited human scent. But in the middle of a fair, not even the strongest nose of a bloodhound would have met success, according to Polky.
Expanse of land sprawled the search into many possible directions. Booths, attractions, parking lots, more parking lots, vehicles – and that’s just within the limits of the fair.
The exit, unattended by officials until deputies positioned themselves, led vehicles down a long driveway, along a river, and into downtown.
“Everybody understood how diverse that area is, and all the trouble that child could get into, had they been lost,” said Polky.
At least an hour and a half after Union Ambulance was called to check on the older person, which instigated the search for a child, confirmation arrived. A communication barrier had led to misinterpretations and misunderstandings. Another family member was also at the fair. When the medical event occurred, the family member took the child home.
For deputies, it was a successful outcome, a powerful show of community, and a reminder that, in the eyes of law enforcement, everyone is someone.
“Though there sometimes are some negative public sentiment about our professions, the point is, no matter what happens to you, we are all going to be there to help you,” he said. “I guess this is what I enjoy about this profession, which is why I like the position I just got today (Aug. 1, 2022). I want to toot their horn for them.”
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