Selectmen in Orrington voted to have three Penobscot County sheriff’s deputies patrol the town of 3,700 instead of local officers employed by the town, according to Selectman Keith Bowden.
The Monday night vote to pursue a contract with the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office came about a month after the town’s police chief quit and as a local committee works on plans for a new public safety building that will be designed to have less space for police than originally planned.
Orrington is one of two towns that participate in a community policing program with the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office. Under the arrangement, Orrington employs its own officers and purchases cruisers for them to patrol the town. But the officers are trained by the sheriff’s office, and they wear the same uniforms and gun belts as sheriff’s deputies. The cruisers also bear the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office logo.
It’s been many years since Orrington officials last signed a contract with his department for the community policing arrangement, Sheriff Troy Morton said. Because of Sgt. Jon Carson’s recent resignation and the downsizing of the town’s proposed public safety building, it seemed like a good time to discontinue the community policing program, according to Morton.
Hermon is the only other community in Penobscot County that has a similar program. Other communities without local police departments contract with county commissioners for law enforcement coverage from the sheriff’s department, he said.
That’s the arrangement Orrington selectmen voted to pursue Monday night. The details are expected to be worked out with input from residents, Bowden said.
The choice to opt for sheriff’s office coverage in town came as selectmen also set a date for Orrington residents to vote on a redesigned proposal for a public safety building that town officials have pursued to put police and fire operations under one roof.