by Lisa Tome
Paul Wilkinson's break from police work didn't last long.
He retired from a 30-year career with Harford County Sheriff's Office on September 30, and started his new job with Rising Sun Police Department the next day.
Wilkinson, 57, who retired as a sergeant, is a seasoned officer. He was recognized by the Baltimore Sun as an Officer of the Year, three times. He is experienced as a patrol officer as well as in the areas of K-9, narcotics, warrant apprehension, tactical operations, field training, and more. Before signing on with the Harford Sheriff's Office, he was also an officer in the Town of Bel Air for nearly four years.
He has lived in Harford County most of his life and it was there that he chose his career path. "A state trooper lived up the street from me. I thought he was the most incredible (person). I was in awe. As a kid, I looked up to him and said that's what I want to be," said Wilkinson.
He attended North Harford High School and Harford Community College before earning his bachelor's degree from Towson University. While working in Harford County, he also got to know Chief Chip Peterson, who worked there as a Maryland State Trooper. The pair worked the same "high crime" area and got to be friends. They have maintained a friendship over the years. Peterson asked Wilkinson if he was interested in one of the two open posts in the department.
"I have a big interest in community policing and making community contacts. I'm a walk and talk kind of police officer," said Wilkinson.
Wilkinson's early days on the job here were filled with excitement. After a nearly six hour search on October 2, Rising Sun police, with help from allied agencies, apprehended a Pennsylvania man who had a handgun and drugs in his possession. "That reinforces that even in the safest communities, nobody is immune. It's a sign of the times. That guy was a transient. You can't stop who comes to town," said Wilkinson. He said he is anxious to meet the people of the town and get to know them. He said his focus will be community outreach. "Everyone I've run into so far has been nice," Wilkinson added.
In order to meet Maryland Police Training Commission requirements, Wilkinson will spend 30 days in field training, riding along with other Rising Sun officers.