Media Archive

Brownville says no to police change

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 164, No. 43, October 23, 2002

By Jessica Lee
Staff Writer

BROWNVILLE Residents nixed various options last week to change the way policing services are delivered in town, including any collaboration with the town of Milo.

Selectmen voted Oct. 15 to maintain a 24-hour shift schedule and continue the hiring process for a new police chief, after a show of hands vote from about 35 residents supported that option. Approximately 100 attended the public meeting at the Brownville Junction Alumni Hall.

Town Manager Sophie Wilson presented a variety of options for the town, including eliminating the police department altogether; moving from a 24-hour shift schedule to a 12-hour shift schedule to improve administrative oversight; collaborating with Milo on police coverage, possibly through a shared police chief; or contracting out police coverage through an outside agency.

The 24-hour shift, while maintaining the status quo, has the potential to create a tricky situation for the town.

According to Town Manager Sophie Wilson, a full-time police officer in Brownville on a 24-hour shift (12 hours on duty and 12 hours on-call) could work 140 to 171 hours in a four week period, without getting paid for overtime, and the town would be in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act.

However, because officers in the past did not log actual hours, there may have been times when the town slipped, Wilson said.

Wilson said the town will need to develop a protocol for logging all police hours to make sure the town remains in compliance with the federal law.

Selectmen voted 3 to 2 to retain the 24-hour shifts and supplement the full-time chief and full-time patrol officer posts with reserve officer hours. Gary Cook, Ron Mihalik and Dennis Green supported the motion, and Bob Hamlin and Wilbur Nichols voted against it.

Wilson said Monday that the town is continuing the hiring process for a new police chief, and the hiring committee was scheduled to interview candidates for the police chief position Monday evening. She said three were chosen from a pool of eight applications to go onto the interview process.

The hiring committee, which consists of two selectmen, two community members and Wilson, will make a recommendation to the board of selectmen.

"The board has final say on any hire," Wilson said.

The town manager said a nomination may be made public at the next selectmen's meeting, Nov. 7, or selectmen may hold an emergency meeting prior to that date.

She expressed gratitude to the town of Milo for helping out in the interim.

"The town of Milo has been working so hard to help us," Wilson said. "They've just been a terrific neighbor."

She said the two towns will continue to discuss ways to collaborate to keep expenses down, such as through garbage collection. She said the towns also are looking to conduct a joint economic development study for the Milo/Brownville area.

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.