LINCOLN, Maine — It was mid-summer and the Police Department was swamped with work. The department’s five patrol officers were handling what turned out to be about 40 reported burglaries mixed in with their typical 10-12 calls a day.
So Police Chief William Flagg assigned Sgt. Kevin Giberson to a special assignment. Giberson looked for links between burglaries and suspects that the patrol officers didn’t have time to search for because they were too busy going from call to call.
Interim Town Manager Lisa Goodwin thought that was a smart move.
“Without doing that, cases fall behind, leads grow stale, and crimes go unsolved,” Goodwin wrote in her Weekly News memo of Oct. 3 to the Town Council and general public. “To the victims of these crimes, this is poor service and unacceptable.”
Giberson’s work is expected to conclude by the end of next week. That’s when he and other officers will review the burglary cases with attorneys from the District Attorney’s Office in Bangor to see whether the three suspects already charged in connection with the burglaries and several other persons of interest will be arrested or face more charges, Flagg said.
Then Giberson will go back to patrol duties full time, Flagg said.
“The significant number of burglaries, thefts, child abuse cases and other felony crimes we get require a significant amount of investigative time,” Flagg said Tuesday. “That requires us to change our enforcement techniques and assign a patrol officer to [do investigative work temporarily] even though we do not have the staffing level to do that full time.
“Could we use a person assigned to do that full time? Most definitely, but under the current staffing level, I can’t do that,” he added.
The council turned down Flagg’s request last spring to hire an additional officer, citing budget concerns, Goodwin said.
Flagg said he might seek to hire an additional officer next year.
The department handles 3,500 to 4,000 service calls a year.