Controversy over China Police Department heats up

The following is a reprint of a letter sent to the Morning Sentinel writer Greg Levinsky, from China Police Chief Craig Johnson, provided to The Town Line by Chief Johnson.

Dear Greg:

China town manager’s April 30 letter on China policing.

I find the matter discouraging and dispiriting. However, I do not want this issue to seem like or turn into a political matter. The China Police Department is currently allotted up to 26 hours of coverage a week. The China Police Department is a part-time agency. We have a total of five officers, each of which are certified by the Maine Criminal Justice Academy as full-time law enforcement officers and each one is a law enforcement veteran. Two of our officers are Advisors to the Chief (Chief Michael Tracy and Sgt. Jerry Haynes of the Oakland Police Department). Our law enforcement training is continuous and up to date. The understanding between the department and the town is that we will cover as many hours as possible each week up to 26 hours.

In January of 2021 I received an email from the town manager and learned that she was asked to look into the cost of 40 hours a week coverage from the sheriff’s department. I also learned the town already had an initial meeting with Sheriff Mason. Although, I was told that no final decision had been made, however, there were three options:

  1. Keep China Police Department as it is;
  2. Add a 40-hour chief and keep part-time hours;
  3. Disband and hire KSO for 40 hours a week.

After receiving this email I became concerned about hiring anymore officers to provide more coverage up to the allotted 26 hours. I didn’t and don’t feel it would be appropriate to hire more officers with the departments existence being in jeopardy. It wouldn’t be fair to the officers or the taxpayers, should we have to disband.

Chief Johnson’s response was:

I believe the Town of China, its residents and its police officers have quite a vested interest in the China Police Department. I have personally devoted a great deal of time and effort into updating equipment, updating the Standard Operating Procedures, establishing China P.D.’s own IMC reporting system and doing police work for China, all while representing the town. Also, I speak with people / residents all of the time whom are glad to see that China has its own police department. Additionally the C.P.D. 2021 / 2022 budget proposal provides up to 66 hours a week coverage.

This past week I received a letter dated April 30, 2021, from the town manager, which is attached.


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