SABATTUS — A “staffing crisis” at the local police department may slow response times for some non-emergency calls, the town’s top official wrote in an open letter to the community Wednesday.

Town Manager Timothy Kane said local police and Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office are “committed to providing law enforcement response to our citizens during this crisis. With that said, calls for law enforcement services that are considered an emergency will be handled as a priority. However, a non-emergency requested response may potentially be delayed.”

Kane said two-thirds of the local police department’s nine positions are currently vacant, including patrol sergeant.

And one of the three officers currently employed by the town is out on medical leave and “not expected to return to active duty for some time.”

The town has been advertising for the openings, but, “like so many law enforcement agencies throughout the state, the applicant pool is unfortunately very limited,” Kane wrote.

Residents voted at the September annual Town Meeting to hike wages for officers in hopes of attracting “quality candidates,” Kane wrote. The vote freed up $80,200 for the police department but that money has not yet been released to the department for use


“Unfortunately, this is not uncommon as other municipalities have raised wages for their police officers in the hopes of recruiting qualified individuals. Additionally, several agencies also are offering sign-on bonuses from $10,000 up to $20,000 for officers with experience and even no experience. This is not only a town of Sabattus problem, but it is a national issue as fewer individuals wish to be police officers,” Kane wrote.

He said area law enforcement agencies have been notified of the town’s staffing issues, including Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office.

“They will be attempting to fill open areas with their patrol deputies (voluntary overtime assignments for the town of Sabattus or utilizing their rural patrol deputies). The town and the sheriff’s office are committed to providing law enforcement response to our citizens during this crisis,” Kane wrote.

Also understaffed is the town’s Department of Public Works, Kane wrote.

That department is short one full-time position and some workers are out on medical leave, he said.

“So, as we close in on the winter season, please bear with us as we do our best to prioritize our plowing routes and maintenance,” Kane wrote.

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