Washington County sheriff, state police reach new resource sharing agreement

Posted Dec. 31, 2013, at 12:22 p.m.
Last modified Dec. 31, 2013, at 7:10 p.m.

MACHIAS, Maine — Maine State Police and Washington County Sheriff Donnie Smith have reached a new resource sharing agreement despite a previous disagreement over the proposed contract, Smith disclosed this week.

The agreement, which spells out shared responsibilities for deputies and state troopers to cover and patrol the county, was signed by Col. Robert Williams, chief of the Maine State Police, and officials from the sheriff’s office last week, according to Smith.

The new pact is unchanged from the previous agreement, Smith said Tuesday.

Smith declined comment on the new agreement, other than to say he was pleased that state police agreed to continue to keep three officers assigned to a shift.

“There are a few small changes that allow for some additional flexibility by both agencies,” Williams said Tuesday.

Smith launched a public attack on the state police in early December, saying they proposed a new agreement that would have reduced the number of troopers conducting patrols in the county. His critical comments were contained in an email to members of the news media.

The county is divided into three geographic zones or slots for the purpose of coverage by law enforcement officers. State police proposed going to a system of two slots, according to Smith, but he said he would not agree to it. Two officers would have too large an area to cover, he argued, an arrangement that is “just not safe,” Smith said at the time.

The proposal would have reduced state police staffing by half, contended Smith.

However Lt. Roderick Charettte, who oversees state police operations in Washington and Hancock counties, said the agency did not plan on reducing the number of officers in Washington.

Williams downplayed negotiations that Charette was engaged in with Shawn Donahue, Smith’s chief deputy, saying they were “just discussions.” He characterized the talks as a “brainstorming” session.

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