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Detective Campbell's life remembered by his fellow troopers

Saving abandoned rabbits at a Medway rest area and forgetting to shave on his first day of field training were just a few of the stories shared by members of Maine State Police, reflecting on the life and service of Detective Ben Campbell.

PORTLAND, Maine — The memorial service held Tuesday in Portland for Maine State Police Trooper Detective Ben Campbell brought together thousands of law enforcement officers, and with them, from the select few fortunate to have known him, several stories about who he was as a person and a public servant.

Those speaking included his own chief, commanding officer, supervisor and troop corporal.

At the end of his remarks, Maine State Police Col John Cote, the agency's chief, shared a story about Campbell rescuing several rabbits dumped at a rest area along I-95 and, after initially giving up, returning to rescue the last one.

Col. Cote called it a story that "truly demonstrate[d] his guardian's heart" and said it would become known as "The Great Rabbit Roundup."

"During one of Ben's shifts as a trooper in Troop B, a caller reported that someone had dumped several domesticated rabbits at the Medway I-95 rest area during one of the coldest days that winter," Cote said.

"The caller was afraid the rabbits would not survive. Ben arrived and indeed there were several rabbits out in the cold. And despite their dire situation, Ben found that none of the rabbits thought being rescued by a state trooper was such a great idea. So began a determined chase by Ben.

"It took a significant amount of time for him to chase and corner and eventually round of four out of five rabbits and get them into his cruiser. After finding the fifth rabbit, the most elusive, Ben by now was pretty well worn out. He threw in the towel and headed out, leaving the fifth rabbit to fend for itself.

"And that's where the story would end for many of us, but this was Ben.

"He later told his friend, he got a mile down the road and started thinking about that lone rabbit. He took a crossover, he went back and spent nearly another hour before capturing it, and then taking it, the entire clan, to a local animal rescue.

"It is that commitment, to being a guardian, that brought Ben to the side of I-95 last Wednesday morning to guard a motorist in danger. Not stopping would've never entered his mind.

Lt. Sean Hashey, commanding officer of Troop E, shared several stories about Campbell, one of which detailed the trooper's first day of field training.

"As many of you can relate, reporting to your first day of field training after graduating from the academy is both exciting and [sic] at the same time. You've received an abundance of training at the academy to simply have no idea what to expect when you apply it in the real world," Lt. Hashey said.

"Ben pulled in to the Troop E parking lot about a half-hour early for his shift. He had his cruiser shined, his new [sic] boots gleaming and he had a huge grin on his face. He was [sic] and ready to go. Or so he thought.

"Unfortunately, there was one thing that Ben forgot. And like you'd expect, this was quickly pointed out to him by his skill training officer. In the combination of nervousness and excitement, Ben had forgotten to shave."

Hashey went on to reveal that he himself had not only forgotten to shave last Friday – likely the first time in his 25-year career – but also brush his teeth and shower. He joked it was likely Campbell getting back at him for having to suffer through several practical jokes during his years at the troop.

This story is being added to and will eventually include Lt. Sean Hashey, Supervisor Terry James and Cpl. Adam Coover's full remarks.

FULL REMARKS

Col. John Cote, MSP chief

"What does it take to Maine trooper? If there was a recipe on what makes an outstanding Maine trooper, Ben Campbell certainly had all the key ingredients.

"While we spend 28 weeks training new recruits, providing the knowledge, skills and abilities they need, the core traits that make a great trooper are nothing they learned in a training environment.

"At Ben's very core was a cornerstone of integrity, a foundation of selfless service and sacrifice. At his center, the part that made him special, Ben had the heart of a guardian.

"Those core traits were put in place by his family. He refined them in his pursuit of excellence during his youth in Easthampton, Massachusetts, and later during his time at Westfield State College. His family, his friends, his teammates, his teacher, coaches and other mentors were the sources he relied on to guide him as he grew into the man that we were all blessed to know.

"That foundation and that heart, Ben brought those with him when he came to our agency. Ben loved being a trooper because it fit him so well. The team and family environment, a commitment to service and being a part of something larger than yourself.

"Ben's time in the state police would be marked by his continued drive to give his very best at any undertaking. He would steadfastly maintain a positive outlook and his attitude helped others see the light in some of our darkest days.

"He understood that just because he was arresting someone did not make that person a career criminal. Ben would talk to these folks. And through those conversations, he would learn that many times the conduct that had led to their arrest was simply the result of problems and circumstances within that person's life. He cared for people. And he knew he could learn something from everyone he encountered.

"His confident smile, his genuine compassion for people and his respect for them was evident in those he dealt with. And on the rare occasion, when someone might resist his efforts to make an arrest, causing Ben to have to go hands on, after securing them, he would stand them up, brush them off, and then promptly express his frustration that they had forced him to take that approach.

"I remember learning that Ben was engaged, and learning later that he got married. It was during his promotion to detective that I first had the honor of meeting Hilary. I told many people, as Ben introduced me to Hilary, his love for her and his pride in being able to introduce her as his wife, made him smile and gush with pride. It was obvious to me that he knew to keep up [sic]. And her love for him, and her pride for his accomplishments, were just as evident. As they stood together for photos that day, I will always remember the love that was shining out from both of them.

"When I saw Ben recently, and had an opportunity to ask about his little son Everett, that smile, that gush of pride, was at a whole new level. His love for his young family is what put a noticeable bound in his death.

"One of the other things Ben knew, was you need a strong family alongside of you if you're going to make it. His parents, Nancy and Jim, and Hilary's parents, Steve and Lisa, joined Hilary and their love, support and pride in Ben.

"Our troopers here on the Maine [sic] today all rely on our families to help keep us going. Who is it that guards the guardians? It's our families and our faith. Our spouses sacrifice constantly due to the demands of our work and we would be lost without them. And I am no exception. My wife Tammy is my rock. Tammy, my children and our faith have tirelessly supported me and stood me up through this week. Like many spouses, Tammy has allowed me to process this tragedy and mourn, and in a unique way, [sic].

"I want to thank my brothers and sisters in blue for standing me up throughout this week. And I want to thank the spouses and family members of all our troopers for your love and support of all of our members. We could not do it without you.

"Before I close, I want to share a story about Ben that truly demonstrates his guardian's heart. A story of a call for service that would become known as 'The Great Rabbit Roundup.' And so it was.

"During one of Ben's shifts as a trooper in Troop B, a caller reported that someone had dumped several domesticated rabbits at the Medway I-95 rest area during one of the coldest days that winter. The caller was afraid the rabbits would not survive. Ben arrived and indeed there were several rabbits out in the cold. And despite their dire situation, Ben found that none of the rabbits thought being rescued by a state trooper was such a great idea. So began a determined chase by Ben.

"It took a significant amount of time for him to chase and corner and eventually round of four out of five rabbits and get them into his cruiser. After finding the fifth rabbit, the most elusive, Ben by now was pretty well worn out. He threw in the towel and headed out, leaving the fifth rabbit to fend for itself.

"And that's where the story would end for many of us, but this was Ben.

"He later told his friend, he got a mile down the road and started thinking about that lone rabbit. He took a crossover, he went back and spent nearly another hour before capturing it, and then taking it, the entire [sic], to a local animal rescue.

"It is that commitment, to being a guardian, that brought Ben to the side of I-95 last Wednesday morning to guard a motorist in danger. Not stopping would've never entered his mind.

"I have a strong faith in God, and I will stand on that faith, so I must believe that I simply lack the understanding of God's purpose in all of this.

"To my state police family, thank you for your outstanding and selfless work over the past week. Together we will get through this. We will. But we will never be exactly the same.

"To Hilary, we love you. We will do our very best to be there for you and forever. Thanks to you and Ben's entire family for sharing him with our agency. We will honor Ben each day by serving others in the way he demonstrated and the way he would expect us to serve. Ben would demand it.

"On behalf of the entire state police command staff, thank you and godspeed."

Lt. Sean Hashey, Troop E commander

"At the time, I was a sergeant in section one and I had the privilege of working with Ben as his direct supervisor.

"On the morning of August 13, 2012, Ben reported to Trooper Ouellette and Trooper [sic] for his first day of field training. He just graduated from the [sic], excited to have him join our troop, and couldn't wait to see what this baseball player from Western Mass. was all about.

"As many of you can relate, reporting to your first day of field training after graduating from the academy is both exciting and [sic] at the same time. You've received an abundance of training at the academy to simply have no idea what to expect when you apply it in the real world.

"Ben pulled in to the Troop E parking lot about a half-hour early for his shift. He had his cruiser shined, his new [sic] boots gleaming and he had a huge grin on his face. He was [sic] and ready to go. Or so he thought.

"Unfortunately, there was one thing that Ben forgot. And like you'd expect, this was quickly pointed out to him by his skill training officer. In the combination of nervousness and excitement, Ben had forgotten to shave.

"After reviewing the written report, documenting Ben's progress that day, I asked him about the shaving incident. I'll never forget the way he looked back at me, with that innocent grin, and explained, 'I'm sorry, sir. Well, I guess I'm really lucky that didn't show up too much because, you know, I'm really not very good at growing a beard.'

"A typical response from Ben, one that many of us have come to known very well. He had a way of pointing out the positive, attracting the attention away from the negative.

"You see, Ben had the infectious smile and a special way of creating friendship. He simply couldn't help but love to death. For those who had never met him, the only way I can think to describe his happy smile and Cheshire Cat grin would be to say that there was some other [sic] of the Gronk – Rob Gronkowski. It was kind of like that but way bigger.

"[Sic] natural disposition to always look at the bright side of things became the trademark of him. You'd comment to Ben that it was hot outside. His response would probably be something along the lines of, 'sure is, but at least it's not raining today.'

"This positive attitude is a [sic], the way he carried himself and the way he lived his life. Negativity and complaining simply weren't part of Ben's [sic].

"I had actually forgotten about this story about Ben, forgetting to shave on his first day, until this past weekend. As I began preparing these remarks for today, I dug into my Ben Campbell folder, a folder that I still kept from when I was a sergeant.

"As I read my notes about his shaving incident, it made me chuckle inside – a rare occurrence this past week. A chuckled not because of the incident itself, but because of the irony. You see, this past Friday, two days after losing Ben, I had a similar incident myself – but worse. As troopers, we're trained to maintain a high level of pride in our appearance while wearing the uniform. In my 25-year career, I had never just simply forgotten to shave, until this past Friday.

"There I was, headed home on I-95, on my way to the barracks and then on to Ben and Hilary's home. I was thinking about Ben and his family, as well as the troopers. I was running a billion thoughts through my mind when I happened to glance in the rear-view mirror and caught a glimpse of my face. That was the moment it donned on me that I had forgotten to shave.

"I instantly became frustrated in my wonder and started replaying my morning in my head, attempting to figure out why I hadn't shaved. This is when I realized that I had also forgotten to brush my teeth.

"After a few more moments of trying to figure out why I hadn't shaved or brushed my teeth, I realized this entire chain of events stemmed from the fact that I had forgotten to take a shower.

"Can't help but think of Ben in Heaven looking down on me Friday morning. He remembered his shaving incident on his first day of field training and this was his chance to get back at me for a few practical jokes that I played on him over the years.

"Part of the reason I tell you this embarrassing story about forgetting to shower is because many in this audience undoubtedly had your own challenges this week, keeping your outward appearance held together and strong. We feel a sense of duty to stay strong as a way of pulling things together for the others around us. [Sic].

"Just know you are not alone. Many of us are all hurting enormously through the loss of Ben.

"We're incredibly sad for Hilary, Everett, Jim and Nancy, brother Nolan, Lisa, Steve, the rest of the Campbell and [sic] families. Comments wouldn't be complete without mention of Ben's beloved dog Brownie as well.

"Ben's death has left a gaping hole in our hearts and lives. We'll never be the same without Ben, without 12-82, without 5-11. He was our brother and he was tragically taken away too soon. We need to continue to lean on each other as we start to heal and find ways to love and support Hilary and Everett.

"I mentioned playing practical jokes on Ben. One of these jokes came at the first section he attended after completing his field training and reporting to section one as the new unit 5-1. As a section, we decided it'd be fitting to give Ben a proper welcome. Why wouldn't we? So I downloaded background music for the National Anthem on my computer and I printed out the words on a blank sheet of paper.

"As we all gathered around the table, I called the section to attention. I handed the National Anthem words to Ben and I informed him that it was a long-standing tradition of the troop to start the meeting by having one of the troopers sing the National Anthem. I didn't want to give him too much time to think about it so I immediately started playing the background music, hoping he'd start singing.

"The section did their best to put on their serious trooper faces, as he stood their looking at us, wide-eyed and nervous, like a cow looking at a new gate. After missing the first two verses, as the music played in the background, Ben put on his trademark smile, looked at me and said, 'sir, I'm sorry, but this isn't going to happen today.' The section immediately burst into laughter and Ben realized that his legs were being pulled.

"I think in a way, it helped Ben realize that he was part of a special session of the state police – a section that thought it could fight together, laugh together and truly work as a team. I've always been proud and thankful to have been part of that wonderful group of people, and I'm glad that Ben was part of that, too.

"Ben was assigned out of the academy to the northern Penobscot patrol of Troop B. We refer to the area as the one and two slots. I was familiar with Ben's assignment situation as I had also been assigned the same.

"…"

This story is being added to and will eventually include Lt. Sean Hashey, Supervisor Terry James and Cpl. Adam Coover's full remarks