PARIS, Maine — Local police chiefs asked Oxford County commissioners to help step up drug enforcement Tuesday.
At an annual meeting of Oxford County police chiefs with the Oxford County Commission, several spoke about the need for greater drug enforcement. The need is especially urgent in the Oxford Hills region, where a grant that paid for a Maine Drug Enforcement Agency agent ran out last November.
The agent, Zane Loper, went to work for the Oxford Police Department in June, leaving local officers to fit drug enforcement investigations, which can be time consuming, into their day-to-day work.
Sheriff Wayne Gallant agreed that more drug enforcement agents are needed. “Personally, I think we should have three or four agents in Oxford County,” he said, citing the growing presence of heroin.
Rumford has an MDEA agent, Tony Milligan, working with its police department. Rumford police Chief Stacy Carter said Milligan has more than enough work. “We keep him very busy in northern Oxford County,” he said, agreeing that more agents are needed.
“Any type of problem we deal with, the nexus of the problem is drug addiction or abuse,” Carter said.
Oxford police Chief Jon Tibbetts said he hoped local law enforcement, or the county, could again find grants to pay for drug enforcement. “If we can get back into that program, we can take a bite out of our property crime.” He said most burglaries and break-ins are related to drug addicts. “All that property’s going to Massachusetts, and the drugs are coming back,” he said.
Police also discussed the possibility of turning the Oxford County Jail into a full-time jail for prisoners staying 90 days or less. Gallant said the county is requesting a mission change for the jail at the next Board of Corrections meeting. Several chiefs in attendance offered to submit letters of support.
Present at the meeting were Gallant, Tibbetts, Carter, Oxford County Chief Deputy Hart Daley, Dixfield police Chief Richard Pickett, Norway police Chief Rob Federico, Norway police Detective Gary Hill, Paris police Chief David Verrier and Paris police Lt. Michael Dailey.