LEE -- Over the 30 years of his tenure as a Lee police officer, Adelarde "Eddy" Laliberte was the ultimate small-town cop.
He eschewed force in favor of reason. The most important aspect of being an officer, he said in a 1978 interview, was level-headedness.
"Passing yourself off as a tough guy is the last thing I would try to do as a policeman," he said in 1978. "You can do so much more, especially with kids, if you use friendliness or kindness."
Laliberte loved kids, perhaps because he had none of his own. They called him "Officer Lollipop" because some of the younger ones couldn’t pronounce his name. He never objected.
"The most rewarding part of the job is the contact you have with [children]," he said in that same interview. "One the other hand, if one of them gets hurt, that’s the only part of the job that stays with you. That, you take home."
For the first two years of Laliberte’s tenure, the Lee PD didn’t have a cruiser. There were times, when Laliberte’s car was being repaired, that he took a taxi to an automobile accident or crime scene.
Laliberte wasn’t issued a gun until 1953. Sometimes, he said, he would borrow a firearm from a friend.
But having a gun wasn’t, in Laliberte’s estimation, a big deal. In his 30 years as a Lee officer, officers from his department were shot at twice. They did not return fire. Instead, he said, the officer negotiated with the shooter.
Oh, and no one in Lee ever called him "Adelarde.
In 1953, Laliberte began making toys in his basement, intending to give them to local kids during the holidays. He salvaged toys from a local manufacturer and rebuilt them. That Christmas, he had enough toys for 40 or 50 local children. He continued making toys for another eight years.
In 1961, the Lee Toys for Joy Fund was inaugurated. The fund began raising money to buy toys, although Laliberte continued to make toys, also.
In 1978, the fund was renamed in his honor. Later that year, Laliberte retired. In 1981, he turned the operation of the Laliberte Toy Fund to Officer Joseph Buffis, who had been assisting him for the past few years.
"I think Joe will do a good job," Laliberte told the Selectmen in 1981 when the changeover was announced. "He’s been helping me for a while, and knows the ins and outs."
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