LISBON — Lisbon’s police force will be safer and more effective after it brings in a couple new officers within the next year, according to Police Chief Marc Hagan.

Lisbon has 12 sworn officers on its staff, but a 2015 study found it should have at least 14 to best serve the town.

Town councilors decided to add two more officers to the budget after Hagan raised staffing concerns. Full staffing, he said, would improve the department’s ability to enforce traffic laws and improve safety because officers wouldn’t have to respond to potentially dangerous calls, such as domestic disputes, without backup.

“Officer safety was a big part of it,” said Hagan. “I think it will also help our outreach in the community.”

The department hired two new officers, but the new additions must still attend the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in Vassalboro. One of the new hires started the 18-week program in August while the other will attend in January.

“On paper, we’re at the number,” said Hagan. “But, they need to go to the academy so we’re not quite there yet.”

The additions could help the department fulfill a desire in town for an increased police presence in schools. Lisbon has one school resource officer for three schools. As a solution, the department decided to send officers to schools to complete paperwork while on patrol.

“We have started it,” Hagan said. “We’re not getting in every day as we’d like but we did it once school started this year.”

Those visits should become more regular once the force is fully staffed.

Hagan is looking to fill another vacancy as an officer is leaving for another department. Finding qualified candidates and retaining officers is a challenge to bringing the department up to full staffing, but Hagan has found those issues aren’t exclusive to Lisbon. He believes the increased scrutiny that comes with the position is a factor.

“It’s been going on for a while now,” said Hagan. “They see the negative that’s in the media. You’re met with the second and third guessing on what you do on a daily basis.”

As the department closes in on its staffing goal, it should fall more in line with national averages.

According to the most recent FBI Uniform Crime Reporting study, law enforcement agencies averaged 2.4 sworn officers per 1,000 inhabitants. About 8,880 people lived in Lisbon as of 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

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