Media Archive

Brownville Milo police departments may join forces

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 164, No. 40, October 02, 2002

By Jessica Lee
Staff Writer

Brownville to hold public meeting to get input

BROWNVILLE The town may join forces with Milo in order to maintain 24-hour police coverage.

Selectmen Thursday agreed to hold a public meeting Oct. 15 to get community input on the town's police department, before voting on how to proceed.

Town Manager Sophie Wilson said that the town has been working with Milo on collaborative police coverage, off and on, since June of 2000, due to a shortage of personnel. When former Brownville Police Chief Scott Stubbs resigned in August, selectmen appointed Milo's police chief, Todd Lyford, to the interim position.

The town is now advertising for a full-time police chief.

Thursday, Wilson told selectmen that the vacancy provides an opportunity to explore alternatives. She expressed concerns with the current operations of the department.

Wilson said the police department, until recently, has operated on 24-hour shifts, where a police officer works 10 hours patrolling and 14 hours on-call. That schedule presents problems, specifically in the lack of administration, Wilson said, as the town's one full-time officer could go for two- or three-day stretches with no contact with the chief. That schedule also makes it difficult to find employees, she added.

"This is the perfect time to be examining the organizational structure [of the police department] because we're looking at a change in administration," Wilson said.

The town manager proposed that the department change to 12-hour shifts, which give the officer eight to nine hours of patrol time, with three to four hours on-call. The 12-hour shift also would increase the visibility of the officers in the community, Wilson said.

The change to a 12-hour shift schedule would require the town to hire an additional part-time patrol officer, at a cost of about $17,000, in addition to a police chief. A cheaper option would be to cover the extra shifts with reserve officers, at a cost of $11,650. But the cheapest alternatives, Wilson said would be for the town to collaborate with Milo, share & police chief and hire a permanent part-time officer.

The collaboration would allow the town of Brownville to operate its police department on 12-hour shifts at little to no extra cost to taxpayers, Wilson said.

According to Lyford, the two towns would operate on the same schedule, with two officers on duty every evening and one officer on duty to cover both towns during the day on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

Patrol hours could increase from 10 to 16 hours a day on some days.

"If we can hold the budget line but get more coverage, we're really gaining," said Chairman Dennis Green.

Selectman Gary Cook said he would agree to the sharing of a police chief, if townspeople decide to collaborate with Milo. "Todd's done a great job administering policies in both towns," he said.

The board voted to schedule an informational session for residents at 6 p.m. Oct. 15, tentatively at the Brownville Junction Alumni Hall. Wilson will make a presentation on the various policing options available to the town. Afterwards, residents will get a chance to state their opinion on the issue. Selectmen then will vote on what option to pursue.

"The board really wants to hear from the public," the manager said.

Selectmen cannot vote to increase the 2002 budget or eliminate the police department altogether. Wilson said that if the selectmen wish to proceed in either direction, the matter would go before voters at the March town meeting.

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