HERMON, Maine — The state’s biggest bath salts bust to date, a recent outcry over sex offender notification procedures and a proposal to post armed police officers in the town’s public schools are among the reasons that town officials have commissioned a study of police services.
The independent assessment will be conducted by a three-member team from the Maine Chiefs of Police Association at a cost of $6,000, Town Manager Roger Raymond said late last week. The team will consist of Falmouth Police Chief Ed Tolan, who will lead it, Yarmouth Police Chief Michael Morrill, and Scarborough Police Chief Robert Moulton.
“These are all police chiefs who have been in the business for a long, long time. They’ll be spending three days here and they are going to review all of the procedures and our programs,” Raymond said. “Then they are going to come back to the Town Council with recommendations on how we can [focus] our service to be more reflective of what our businesses, what our schools, what our citizens would want.
“The council has been looking for several years to make a determination about what they should be doing [in terms of police coverage],” Raymond said. “They’ve toyed around with having their own department or improving their contract with the sheriff’s [office].”
Among the questions Raymond said the study will help answer are: “Where do we want to go with our law enforcement division? What do the citizens want and what do they want to pay for? Because it’s not only what they want but what they feel they can afford.”
Raymond said that the team will arrive Tuesday, March 5, in Hermon and will hold a public forum that evening, at 7 p.m. in the town’s Public Safety Building.
Members will spend the next two days interviewing town and school elected officials and employees, deputies assigned to Hermon and other personnel from the county sheriff’s office, and business owners, among others, Raymond said.
As it stands, Hermon’s police coverage is provided through an agreement with the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office, Raymond said.
The town covers the salaries for three full-time employees — namely a supervisory sergeant and two deputies — a small pool of reserve officers and five vehicles, at a cost of roughly $325,000 a year. The county provides backup, detective, clerical and training support.
“Currently we’re staffed so that we handle probably around 65-70 percent of the shifts but the rest of the time we are covered by the sheriff’s department through our contract,” Raymond said. “We’d need one more full-time employee to cover all the shifts.”
Raymond said the team will examine existing services and meet with elected officers, town staff, businesspeople, residents and others to see what the community would like to see for law enforcement coverage.
The study team then will make recommendations and provide some options for the Town Council and others to consider, he said, adding that the team plans to complete a report on its findings and make recommendations by April 1.