Scarborough police officers. Courtesy photo

The Scarborough Police Department is currently seeking motivated individuals to hire as patrol officers and public safety dispatchers.

“What we’re looking for are self-motivated, strong work ethic individuals who want to serve the community,” said Lieutenant Scott Vaughan. “We have high expectations of our patrol officers to be proactive in serving the citizens in the community. One of the things that I think is a big draw to our agency is the amount of specialty positions that we offer to our patrol officers while they’re working the road.”

Specialty positions including Criminal Investigators, Federal Drug task force officers, SWAT, Honor Guards, School Resource Officers, Special Enforcement, K9 Officers, Community Resource Officers, Traffic Enforcement Officers, Drug Recognition Experts, Evidence Technicians, Motorcycle Officers, Drone Pilots and more.

“An officer comes in, they’re going to make $58,000 a year right off the bat,” said Vaughan. “And that’s not including other incentives like if they’re college educated, whether it’s an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s, doctorate … we offer incentives, a specific dollar amount that goes inside their hourly rate.”

When a patrol officer is hired, they have front-loaded time off, which means they are given instant holidays, vacation days, and sick time, he said.

“That’s a big deal, especially for folks that are already on the job, having to transition to another department and not have time off,” said Vaughan.  For those hired Jan. 1, he said,they get all their time off front-loaded. If an officer is hired halfway through the year, they get half of the year’s time off.

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“Another big draw is our four-day work week,” said Vaughan. “The four-day work week is a 10-hour a day schedule, so they have three days off, so that is 52 extra days off a year, which is a big deal.”

Another perk, he said, is the uniform. The Scarborough Police Department offers a traditional style uniform for patrol officers with a load-bearing vest carrier which takes the weight off the gun belt. “We just unveiled that a couple months ago and the officers that are wearing them now are raving about them and how comfortable the uniform is,” said Vaughan.

In addition, he said, after 25 years of service, an officer can retire at any age, with 66 percent of the highest three years that you worked. “Say it’s $100,000 is your highest pay rate,” said Vaughan. “Which I can tell you right now our officers are making well over that, that is $66,000 dollars a year … you can retire after 25 years of service.”

Entry-level officers with no experience will earn $58,000 a year at the low end, without incentives, he said. But for lateral transfers, an academy-certified officer working for another department, Scarborough will bring them on at the service rate they’ve had for their entire careers. If an officer has been working for five years, Scarborough will start them at five-year level pay, and so on all the way up to30 years of service.

The department is looking for three officers. There is a job posting on the Scarborough Police website, that closes Sunday Dec. 18. Those interested may contact Vaughan by phone at 207-730-4304 or by email at [email protected]

The department is hiring for Public Safety Dispatchers as well.

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“We have our own dispatch center, which is great to have. It adds a personal relationship between the officers and the dispatchers,” said Vaughan. “It’s great to have a personal relationship with those folks on the other end of the radio, taking care of us, watching over us.”

“The first challenge we have in recruiting dispatchers is unlike police officer and firefighter, I think the public is much more aware of what those jobs are and what the roles and responsibilities of those positions are,” said Emergency Communications Manager Joseph Thornton. “Whereas 911 dispatchers I think the general public is exposed only in small doses of television of what the profession really is.”

“I think a unique part of the position is that in the 911 world while you’re a police department employee, you’re exposed to the entire municipal gambit,” he said. “So, in the course of an eight hour shift our dispatchers interact with police officers, firefighters, paramedics, town administration from the town managers office to human resources, the school department, teachers, bus drivers, public works department, plow operators, community services with the lifeguards or parking attendants at the beaches… so we’re really involved in every aspect of the municipal operation which I think is a very unique position. People think that a 911 operator just deals with police and fire calls, where especially in the Scarborough model in our communications center we are really a nerve center for the town.”

This communications center also serves the town of Old Orchard Beach, and a similar, somewhat restricted role, for the town of Buxton.

“I think it’s important that we’re open and honest about what the career is,” said Thornton. “A career in 911 dispatch is certainly not for the faint of heart. It requires a personal sacrifice. And certainly we pay very well here in Scarborough, I would imagine we’re competitive for a like role anywhere in the state and region. That being said, I think the important piece to highlight with a career in emergency communications in 911 dispatch is the returns outside of money. The feeling of self-fulfillment and giving back to the country, the state, the county, the community you live, work, play, and raise your kids in. These roles are an opportunity to be an integral part of the successful operation of life and government.”

“I think a lot of people are exposed to 911 dispatchers answering the phone call every time there is a fire or a bad car accident and that it is just dealing with the worst case scenario every time we answer the phone,” he said, “and it certainly is, those unfortunately happen, and we have the best dispatchers by far in the state in Scarborough to handle those situations. But the job is a lot more than that. We have four dispatchers within the past three years that have been on the phone and coached new moms in delivering babies. So it’s not all doom and gloom and bad things in emergency communications. We are also involved in a lot of people’s happiest moments of their lives.”

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The role of a 911 dispatcher has progressed over the last 20 years, Thornton said. “It used to be more of an administrative or secretarial role and it’s really expanded into an integral part of the emergency operations of the municipality as a whole,” he said. “Dispatchers are taught lessons and responsibilities of police officers, firefighters, paramedics, they’re kind of a jack of all trades. And while we don’t expect our dispatchers to always have every answer, the one thing we expect of our dispatchers and that we train them is that they will always have a way to find the answer.”

“If anybody is even slightly interested in a career, I’d love to sit down and talk to them,” said Thornton. “You know, in the police department world everyone is familiar with ride-a-longs, but in the dispatch world we call them sit-a-longs. We’re very open to having people come in and observe what we do on a day-to-day if they’re interested in working here. We would love to extend that opportunity to potential candidates … anybody that is interested in a career in communications is more than welcome to call and have a discussion with me and we can talk about it at length if they need.”

To contact Thornton, call (207)-730-4352 or email [email protected]

“What I find unique about Scarborough, and it’s not just a cliché, is that we truly are public safety in Scarborough,” said Thornton. “It’s not a police department and a fire department and a dispatch center. It’s one team here. And I think everybody feels that they’re part of the public safety team as a whole. And by no means am I saying that doesn’t exist in other communities. It’s just in the forefront in Scarborough.”

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