Public Safety Considers Open Officer Position

By Kaileigh Deacon

The Calais Public Safety Committee held a meeting on Thursday night with the sole purpose of discussing whether to fill the open full-time Officer Position with the Calais Police Department. The desire to fill the position was brought to the council by City Manager Jim Porter at the Council Meeting at the last meeting.  

The position was already budgeted for as the position was filled when the budget was made. At the City Council meeting Chief Randall asked that he be allowed to fill a position that was already in his budget. 

According to the City Charter amendment the City Manager is required to go before the council and inform them of any intention to fill a full-time position.  Specifically the charter amendment says:

The City Manager or other hiring authority shall not fill a vacancy or  any positions considered to be full time which includes benefits and payment of a salary unless the Council shall be notified of intent to fill such a position and shall approve such hiring. All such employees who are recommended for hiring shall be appointed subject to approval by the Council at their next meeting.

The Council felt that the matter should be sent to the public safety committee so they could talk over the issue and make a recommendation to the council. 

There are currently four shifts that remain unfilled. These open shifts mean that there isn’t around the clock coverage by the Calais Police Department. The goal of filling the open position is to bring the Police coverage back to twenty-four hours. 

The committee talked it over for a few minutes voicing that they had heard concerns from citizens on not having the twenty-four hour coverage.  Another concern was budget, while the current police budget is coming in under budget they are starting to look ahead to the next budget year. The meeting was then opened up for public comment, several members of the community there to voice their opinion. 

Mike Lally, the CEO of Calais Regional Hospital, spoke up. “The twenty-four hour coverage is what is of interest to us. We’re partners, we’ve always been partners with the police department, with Fire/EMS, and with the Council. We’ll continue to be partners and try to do whatever we can including sending our staff away for MOAB training, Managing Aggressive Behavior. But there have been a couple of scenarios of late that scare us and not having the twenty-four hour coverage is a concern that we have.” 

Several other citizens voiced their concern over not having twenty-four hour coverage by the Calais Police Department.

Howard: I know we’re going to be facing big cuts. If we lose that $200,000 in revenue sharing, if we lose that for the ’16, well the ’15-’16 budget looks good but ’16-’17 if we lose that [. . . ] we’ve talked about freezing the whole budget.

Chief Randall brought up the possibility of combining the Calais and Baileyville Police Departments with the support of Baileyville Chief Bob Fitzsimmons. 

Randall: Is the Council opposed to working with Baileyville on combining departments to bring both to twenty-four hour coverage in both towns.

 

Though the council had agreed to hold a special City Council Meeting to take any necessary action it was not necessary to hold the meeting. The committee decided that they would leave it to City Manager Jim Porter and Chief Randall to work on hiring a part-time administrator or officer to bring the department back up to twenty-four hour coverage.