by Rebecca J. Hapgood
Town of China, Maine
The Select Board in conjunction with the town manager spent many meetings over three months reviewing the options for police services for China. All meetings were open to the public. The prior town manager proposed in the prior fiscal year to grow the part-time police force to a full-time department with one 40-hour a week officer and several part-time officers filling the 26 hour a week part-time role.
“We are not defunding the police. There is no ill will and no dislike or distrust of our police. Our officers are an asset to our community when they are available.”
– Rebecca Hapgood, China Town Manager
Both the Select Board and the current town manager reviewed this option as presented in January of 2021 by China Police Chief Johnson. We also asked Chief Johnson for a budget for only a 40-hour a week position. Additionally, we spoke with the Kennebec Sheriff’s Office (KSO) to explore costs on contracting for one full-time 40-hour a week deputy who would work the hours and days we wanted above what is already provided in our county taxes.
The original presentation to the Select Board included this option, because it was less than the cost presented by Chief Johnson. After additional information was presented by KSO like the costs the town would assume to “buy out” an officer from another department to fill this role, I opted to change course. I researched the option of providing police services by KSO at an hourly cost.
Currently, our police budget provides 26 hours of coverage from our three part-time officers. Each of these officers have other full-time employment and only work for China after their regular jobs. Often, there are matters for which we would like coverage during the day. From July 2020 to April 2021, the three officers have worked a combined average of 22.81 hours each month not including the last two weeks which totaled 3.13 hours of service out of the 52 budgeted hours of service.
We are not defunding the police. There is no ill will and no dislike or distrust of our police. Our officers are an asset to our community when they are available. Our goal is to provide the community with the coverage it demands.
The Select Board thoughtfully and meticulously considered the options while keeping your tax dollars in mind. If the budget is passed on June 8 as proposed, we would defer the China Police for a year which would allow us to restart the program in the future, if the proposed option does not meet our needs. The proposed police option for $34,000 provides up to 10 hours of coverage from KSO officers. Prior police budgets amounts were $39,795 for the 2019-2020 fiscal year and $40,561 in the current fiscal year. If you have any further questions, please ask. Our website www.china.govoffice.com has the sample ballot and other information under the Elections tab.
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