Sheriffs react to Maine State Police proposal to reduce call sharing agreements

Source: MGN
Source: MGN(WTOK)
Published: Oct. 7, 2019 at 4:47 PM EDT
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Maine State Police have proposed reducing their coverage provided through call share agreements with eight counties in the state.

State Police Colonel John Cote says troopers are over committed, and there isn't enough personnel to maintain these agreements.

But sheriff's departments say they're fighting the same staffing shortage, and this new proposal would put a huge strain on their fiscal budgets.

Kennebec County Sheriff Ken Mason says, "When you make really drastic changes, really quick, like what's coming, that is really going to hit my overtime budget. I will be very much in the red because I didn't have time to plan for it."

Many sheriff's departments are feeling the pressure after Maine State Police proposed coverage reductions in their call share agreements effective January 1st.

Mason, says his fiscal budget has already passed and an increase in personnel was not part of it.

He says, "I'm going to need to pay for that, and I don't have the budget in my overtime account now to pay for that."

The strain is also being felt in Penobscot County.

County Commissioner Peter Baldacci says, "The sheriff has estimated that to add three full-time patrol officers, it would impact us for vehicles, personnel, and benefits at over $300,000 a year."

County officials say these adjustments are not possible.

Baldacci says, "It's not feasible, and it doesn't make good policy. State Police are a statewide organization. Their funding base source is much deeper than ours. I think we have a fair agreement, it's an equal division of the regions, and it should remain the same."

Mason says, "I just have all these questions, that all these towns that I service are going to need answers to."

Penobscot County Commissioner Peter Baldacci says the Commissioner of Public Safety plans to meet with The State County Commissioner's Association on Wednesday in Augusta.

Sheriff's departments are hoping to set up a meeting as well.