Lincoln delays Police Department review

Posted Sept. 15, 2010, at 11:02 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:29 a.m.

LINCOLN, Maine — Town leaders decided last spring that at the six-month mark of Police Chief Scott Minckler’s tenure, they would discuss changes they might want to see in the Police Department. Now that the time has come, they want to maintain the status quo.

For at least a little longer, anyway.

Minckler and the Town Council agreed during a meeting Monday night to postpone a review of the department for several more months. They want to give Minckler and his full-time officers, who all have been on the job or in new positions for no more than a year, additional time to grow into their jobs.

“It’s just that the department is so new,” Councilor Thora House said. “There have been so many changes that it would be premature to discuss this.”

Still, Councilor Samuel Clay said he felt that even without the review, hiring an additional officer now “would do Lincoln good.”

On Wednesday, Minckler said he probably could use an additional patrol officer rather than a detective, even though a detective typically would serve in a department of Lincoln’s size and the lack of one means that Lincoln lacks someone assigned to delve deep into cases or probe for connections between crimes.

The department’s volume of calls, he said, has spiked considerably over the last year, with police answering more calls in July — 428 — than in any month in the last six years. August had 359 calls, the second-highest total so far in 2010.

“We are definitely seeing more calls than usual,” Minckler said.

The number of what in Lincoln are serious crimes, burglaries and other thefts, also is rising, with 183 reported in 2008 and 207 in 2009. Through July of this year, 128 had been reported, Minckler said.

Case closure rates, meanwhile, have fallen from 21 percent in 2008 to 16 percent in 2009, and 16 percent again from January through July, Minckler said.

When he was hired, Minckler was asked by Town Manager Lisa Goodwin to appraise the department and offer suggestions for its improvement at his six-month mark.

Town leaders will do another evaluation of Minckler’s performance at the one-year mark. Councilors did not specify whether they would review the department then as well.

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