Coming home to Presque Isle

12 years ago

Coming home to Presque Isle


by Matthew J. Irwin

    I am writing this article on the last day of my very first full year as a Presque Isle resident and police chief. I thought it would be appropriate to discuss some current events with national implications and how those issues solidify this community, in my mind, as a great place to live and work.

    Recently, I returned to central Florida to visit friends and family only to find the entire area consumed with the tragic events surrounding the death of a young man named Trayvon Martin (17 years old). As you likely know by now, this young man was involved in a confrontation with another man, George Zimmerman, working as a community volunteer in a Neighborhood Watch program on Feb. 26, 2012. No matter which side of the fence you come down on concerning right and wrong, this event is tragic for all involved. I found so many nationally known personalities and others not so well known, trying to keep the proverbial “pot” stirred up in order to advance their own agendas and clearly without concern for the deceased, Mr. Zimmerman or either of their families.

    One of my daughters attended a handful of classes with Trayvon a couple of years ago and was saddened to see his life end in such a way; she felt him to be a “nice” person in the short time she got to know him. My law enforcement friends did not generally see Trayvon through the same prism as my daughter, although they had never met him.

    It has been decades since I was able to end a vacation and feel so good about going home. Over the course of this past year I have met so many warm and generous residents of Presque Isle and The County, that no other single location seems as good.

    This past year, Presque Isle had a variety of contentious moments play out concerning city government, budgetary issues, and the like but it was a rare occasion when disagreements became disrespectful. It’s easy to sometimes take for granted that people here are genuine and say what they mean and expect others to mean what they say. It’s easy to forget that Presque Isle rarely sees the type of violence that has become so commonplace in other parts of this country and this state. This is a community where jobs are more difficult to find and for those who have jobs, their incomes are typically smaller than they might be somewhere else but the community still strives to provide for the homeless and those less fortunate. The community still supports, with great vigor, charitable organizations like the Special Olympics and United Way to mention a few. People here care about the community in which they live like no other place I have lived and I’m proud to be here.

    Matthew J. Irwin is chief of the Presque Isle Police Department. He can be reached at 764-2535 or via e-mail at