LUBEC, Maine — There’s no crime wave in Lubec, but the Washington County border town is exploring the option — and the costs — of creating its own police department.
With a population of 1,300, more or less, Lubec now provides law enforcement services through a contract with the Washington County Sheriff’s Department. For $181,358 a year, the department provides Lubec with an 86-hours-a-week, two-officer patrol system, as other demands permit.
“They can get called away as other situations in the county arise,” said John Sutherland, Lubec’s town administrator.
Sutherland said Monday an informal committee is looking into both the startup costs and the annual operating costs of establishing a Lubec Police Department. There is no timeline for completing the analysis.
“We want to determine if, for the same money, we can have officers devoted full time to Lubec,” Sutherland said.
Lubec is the only town in Washington County that covers police services with contracted sheriff’s deputies. Jonesport once did, but recently opted out and now has no formal law enforcement program.
What does Lubec get for roughly $500 a day?
“They get two fully trained and fully equipped deputies and 86 hours a week of coverage,” said Michael St. Louis, who is the county’s first deputy. “It’s not 24 hours, but, when they are there, they’re checking buildings and answering calls and doing what municipal officers do.”
The county’s manpower commitment exceeds contract parameters as crime happens, St. Louis said.
“When there’s a major crime there, they don’t just get one or two officers,” he said. “They get our whole agency, which is how we do business.”