LINCOLN, Maine — The Police Department’s oldest and most experienced full-time patrolman will be its first officer in a post created to help offset a sagging case-clearance rate, officials said Tuesday.
Officer David Cram will assume his new position, which qualifies as a promotion and carries with it a raise that brings his pay to $18 per hour, when his patrol officer replacement is hired, Police Chief William Lawrence said.
The application period on that position expires on Nov. 18. Lawrence hopes the hiring will occur within two months. He could not recall offhand Tuesday how much of a raise the $18 per hour represents.
The department will be at full strength, with seven full-time officers, when the position is filled, Town Manager Lisa Goodwin said.
Lawrence said he picked the 11-year veteran for the position because he has more than a decade of experience as an East Millinocket and Lincoln police officer. Aside from Cram and Lawrence, the department’s full-time police officers all have less than five years of experience, and most of Cram’s experience is in East Millinocket. He was hired in Lincoln in June.
Cram has developed good working relationships within the department and the District Attorney’s Office and shown himself to be a hard and painstaking worker, Lawrence said. He also liked Cram for the job because of what Cram does despite his years on the job.
“Even though he is a veteran officer, he doesn’t pretend to have all the answers. He will ask questions of me and the district attorney,” Lawrence said. “He’s not afraid to ask.”
That inquisitiveness and attention to detail, Lawrence said, will serve Cram well in his new position. In most police departments, it would be called a detective or uniformed detective, but in Lincoln, Cram also will fill in for patrol officers out on military leave, workers’ compensation injuries and other long-term absences.
“I have already started calling him detective,” Lawrence said.
Penobscot County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy recommended in June that police add a position to do deeper investigative work on cases. The then-six-member department’s lack of a detective, the fact that six child sexual abuse referrals had been made at the time, and the department’s lack of follow-up in dealing with registered sex offenders who live in town were all factors in his recommendation, Lawrence has said.
Eleven registered sex offenders were listed on Maine’s Sex Offender Registry at Lincoln’s ZIP code, 04457, at the time of the recommendation. As of Tuesday, the number was the same, a search revealed.
The department’s case-clearance rate — the number of cases disposed of typically through arrests and convictions — from April 2010 to April 2011 was about 20 percent, Lawrence said. The national average is 30 percent.
Lawrence said the town’s failure to retain the officers it hires and lack of uniformed or plainclothes detectives has left Lincoln with a police force that spends most of its time going from call to call.
The Town Council agreed to the hiring of a new officer as part of the town’s 2011-12 budget, before t he town got a three-year, $193,533 U.S. Department of Justice grant to fund the position earlier this month.
Part of Cram’s job, and among his immediate responsibilities, will be assisting the department’s other police with major felony and misdemeanor cases and seeing whether separate cases have connections.
He also will handle investigations involving children and sex crimes and will be tasked with ensuring that the Maine Sex Offender Registry listing for Lincoln is current and that the people on it are in compliance, Lawrence said.
Cram was off Tuesday and has an unlisted telephone number.