NORRIDGEWOCK, Maine — A call of remembrance will echo through scanners across Somerset County and the state to honor Cpl. Eugene Cole Thursday.
Cole was shot and killed in the line of duty one year ago.
"My first thought was to get here and help,” Kelly Putnam remembers rushing into work as a dispatcher in Somerset County one year ago.
Now, a year later, she will be the one making the call to honor the man she worked with for all 13 years.
"I thought a lot of Gene,” Putnam said as she fought back tears. “I thought a lot of him."
While Putnam was not the one initially at the mic as crews frantically searched for Cole and his cruiser a year ago, it was her voice that made the last call at his funeral service.
Putnam said it was an honor.
Her husband, Cpl. Ritchie Putnam is now behind the wheel of Cpl. Cole’s old cruiser.
"If we happen to key up a mic and they don't respond I think it does bring that thought back to you,” Somerset County Communications Director Michael Smith said.
According to Smith, the county has implemented several changes since the tragedy in April 2018.
The ‘wake up call’ made Smith realize his dispatchers needed more support. There is now a team of people dedicated to supporting dispatchers across the state after these kinds of tough calls.
It has already been used, most recently after the sudden death of State Trooper Ben Campbell.
"It will be vitally important for dispatchers in the future to have that resource,” Smith said.
Another new resource - all Somerset County cruisers can now be tracked by dispatchers in real-time, using new GPS technology that was installed just in the last few months.
"I felt that it was very important that we're able to locate our vehicles if our deputies need help,” Somerset County Sheriff Dale Lancaster told NEWS CENTER Maine.
For Putnam especially, it is an added sense of security.
While some things have changed over last year, there is one thing that never will— this community will never forget its fallen hero.
"I do miss him,” Putnam said.
Cpl. Cole was 61-years-old.