May 20, 2018
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Saco, Biddeford look to strengthen partnership for water patrols

By Liz Gotthelf, Journal Tribune

SACO, Maine — A proposed interlocal agreement for public safety on the Saco River and Atlantic Ocean would strengthen joint efforts and cost sharing between the two cities.

In August, an ad hoc committee with representatives from Biddeford and Saco was established to discuss public safety issues within each municipality’s jurisdiction on the Saco River and in Saco Bay.

The establishment of this committee came after discussions on whether to purchase a $108,000 boat to replace the city’s previous rescue boat, which was damaged beyond repair during a storm.

Currently, the Biddeford and Saco police departments conduct a joint marine patrol during the summer months and the two fire departments assist each other in rescue calls under existing mutual aid agreements.

The ad hoc committee developed an interlocal agreement for public safety on the Saco River and the Atlantic Ocean that includes police, fire-rescue and lifeguards, which will supplement existing mutual aid agreements between the two cities.

In addition to joint police patrol, the agreement creates a joint response for marine rescue calls and develops standards between the two cities for their lifeguard patrol.

All costs, except wages, will be split between the two cities, under the terms of the agreement.

The proposed agreement was approved by the Saco City Council Monday night, and must also receive approval from Biddeford.

Councilors Marston Lovell and Marie Doucette asked whether fees for marine rescue, such as that for ambulance rescue, were ever discussed. Councilor Philip Blood, who chaired the committee, said those sorts of details were not discussed.

“That’s a separate subject. What it boils down to [is] … we have a shared resource,” he said.

Blood said under the terms of the agreement, a committee of members from both cities is required to meet at least once a year to review the agreement.

The committee will work with department heads from police, fire, and parks and recreation to recommend an annual budget and will recommend ordinance changes.

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