by Robert MacFarland
former chairman China board of selectmen
To the editor:
To the citizens and taxpayers of China, My concerns about the town’s decision to dispose of the town’s police department for a lesser service with the county sheriff’s office.
I have served the town on two full terms as a selectboard member and the chairman for the same boards. I was part of the appointed commission to start the police department structuring over seven years ago if my memory serves me correct. The taxpayers have voted to establish and fund our department so we had local control over the security of the community for its people. We have spent years and a ton of tax dollars on this department, and now we are just going to throw it all away.
The selectboard and town manager are unwilling to put the time and effort into continuing the building and supporting of our local law enforcement personnel and department. We, as a community, have decided to fund and build this safety and security for our town and now we do not even get the opportunity to say if we want to continue the service. They have, along with the budget committee, written it out of the next fiscal budget without asking the taxpayers. I for one has seen the department take steps forward and some back due to the staffing issues. This is a nationwide issue, not just one here in China, Maine.
We have up to this point only budgeted for part time officers and prayed that the full time ones had some extra time to cover our community to keep us safe. We need a full time officer and not just 10 hours a week from a part time sheriff’s deputy. I believe Chief Johnson would make a wonderful full time police officer for our town with his vast time in the law enforcement community and respect from his fellow constituents. Now is not the time to defund the police department.
I urge you to contact the town manager, selectboard and budget committee members to support Chief Johnson as a full time officer before it’s too late. Do not support the county sheriff’s position in the budget.
Let me make this perfectly clear for those who don’t know me. I have no ax to grind with the sheriff’s department. I sat on the budget committee for that board and support their cause 100 percent as with any other law enforcement agency in this state.
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