CALAIS, Maine — The city’s new police chief, David Randall, has hit the ground running.
Changes at the Calais Police Department are already under way since Randall officially took office Nov. 2, and he has plans for an array of programs and moves to improve officer training, community outreach and employee morale, among other things.
Among his opening moves were the promotions of Claude Chabre from patrolman to sergeant and of Sgt. Chris Donahue from junior to senior sergeant. Randall also is advertising for two new patrol officers, as the four-patrol department is down by two.
The new chief has instituted a new chain of command structure and is organizing staff meetings. To ensure a highly trained staff and “set the bar” higher, more class time is planned. All within budget, of course.
Several years ago Randall started a program for area businesses to talk about common problems such as shoplifting, employee theft and bad checks. The program went by the wayside, but Randall intends to bring it back.
“I am working on that,” he said of the program. “I am going to be asking their [business leaders] suggestions on what topics they would like to discuss and where and when it would be convenient for them to meet,” Randall said.
He plans to hand-deliver invitations to each of the businesses in the next few days and to start the program in January.
Even the police station is looking better, as officers and dispatchers have been painting walls and sprucing up the facilities.
Randall has served as interim police chief off and on for several years because of former Chief Michael Milburn’s health problems. Milburn has been off the job since January, but earlier this month was elected to the six-member Calais City Council.
Randall’s plans to put his own imprint on the department also will include more traffic surveillance. The City Council has heard a litany of complaints from residents about people speeding through school zones or rolling through stop signs.
“So we are going to pick things up a little bit in the traffic enforcement,” Randall said. “Obviously, we want everybody to go just by the rules of the road and if they are obeying the law they are never going to see us.”
Changes will be made to the dispatch department, which also is under his purview. The city has four dispatchers who rotate shifts 24 hours, seven days a week. There will be more training, and dispatchers will be tied in more closely with the patrol officers.
The new chief plans to reach out to other law enforcement departments and already has contacted the Washington County Sheriff’s Department and the Baileyville Police Department. He plans to contact the Maine State Police.
He would like to see cross-department training to help save money.
“If we don’t all work together crime is going to win,” he said, pointing out budget cuts that have had an impact on the various departments. “We have to combine the training costs. If we could split the cost, [we could do more].”