'Concerned citizens' believe town may lose Police Department
By Diana Bowley, Of the NEWS Staff - DEXTER — The Dexter Public Safety Advisory Committee, organized to review and make recommendations for the operation of the town’s public safety departments, has been criticized even before its task has been concluded.
A letter circulating in the community this week signed by “Concerned Citizens for Local Law Enforcement” states that the town is in danger of losing its police department and that the ad hoc committee is trying to eliminate the service.
The ad hoc committee, organized by the Town Council, has been meeting since May to learn about the structure, staffing and funding of the ambulance, fire and police department operations. The committee of eight is now expected to look at options and alternatives relating to public safety operations and report its findings and recommendations to the Town Council this fall.
“I was disappointed and irritated by the article’s composition of half-truths and misinformation that was obviously being generated as a scare tactic to upset residents,” Town Manager Robert Simpson said Monday. Simpson said that the committee is doing exactly what the council directed it to do, that is, to undertake a self-assessment of the town’s public safety needs and structure.
Police Chief David Clukey said Monday that the letter was not initiated by the Police Department but that people had a right to express their concerns. The letter includes no individual signatures, and officials did not know how widely it has been distributed.
In the letter, residents are told that there is a select group of individuals within the community, including elected officials, who are trying to eliminate the Police Department. “These individuals would have you believe that getting rid of the Dexter Police Department would be a huge savings for the town, well worth the slight inconvenience of not having a local agency,” the letter stated. The letter urges residents to attend the ad hoc meeting Wednesday in council chambers to express their concerns.
Simpson said that the fact that Wednesday’s meeting is open to the public does not necessarily mean that the committee will take public comment.
What apparently rattled some is that the committee has asked to meet with Chief Deputy Glenn Ross of the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department on Aug. 7. Ross will discuss law enforcement options and services that might be made available through the Sheriff’s Department.
According to Simpson, the meeting with Ross is no different from one the committee will have later this month with a Sebasticook Valley Hospital official to discuss ambulance service. These question-and-answer meetings are part of an overall fact-finding mission, the town manager said. The end result may be recommendations for changes in the structure and funding of the departments, he said.
Simpson said that the municipal leadership and community need to look at the local operations in order to ensure that the departments developed years ago are tailored to fit the needs of the community. “This is a legitimate effort by the council to assess what the community’s needs are and to look at the alternatives,” he explained.
Hard questions need to be asked to provide consistency and creditability, the town manager said. All other town functions also will be reviewed in the future, Simpson said.
|Back to News||Home||Print This Story|