Maine Police Chief Has Concerns Over Staffing

Nov. 8, 2011
The department's roster of five full-time officers is down to three.

MEXICO, Maine -- Finding solutions is something police Chief James Theriault has experience with, but a staffing issue has left him scratching his head.

The department's roster of five full-time officers is down to three and Theriault is concerned no qualified candidates will apply.

Full-time Officer Kyle Matthews recently resigned to become a security officer at Bates College in Lewiston, but has agreed to still work part time. He has been with the department since January.

Theriault said another full-time officer is on medical leave and may be back to work in a few weeks.

The department has advertised that position in local newspapers and hopes to get some applicants soon.

"The last time we advertised for a position we had no applicants," Theriault said. "No one was interested."

He said he believes part of the problem is Maine's requirements for becoming a police officer have become too stringent.

"They make these regulations for larger departments who can afford to put officers through all the hoops," he said. "They don't consider the smaller towns that are struggling."

Currently to become a police officer in the state of Maine applicants must pass a written exam, graduate from the 18-week training program at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in Vassalboro, and complete 40 hours of online training.

After that, Theriault said, the applicant can be hired as a reserve officer. To be considered for a full-time position, they but must complete 80 hours of on-the-job training.

"That's part of the problem," Theriault said. "I just don't have money or time to have someone work 80 hours to complete their on-the-job training. I need someone who is ready now."

Theriault said he is hoping to find someone local to fill the position but knows that may not be possible. Most who complete the required training already have jobs lined up in larger departments, he said.

"I really don't know what we are going to do," he said.

Copyright 2011 - Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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