RUMFORD — Fall and early winter brought changes to the police department when three officers left to pursue work elsewhere and a longtime officer retired.
Among other duties, this kept Chief Stacy Carter busy trying to find two more officers to restore the roster to 12 including himself. As of Wednesday, Carter was still looking.
“We're trying to hire two, and one is the utility officer, who is used to reduce overtime,” Carter said. “He fills in for people when they're on vacation, personal days, sick leave, training and deployment.”
“That position is really an asset, because I'm able to save a lot of money in our budget for us,” he said.
In October, with Cpl. Matt Noyes and officer Michael Belanger still deployed overseas, acting Cpl. K. Scott Mills left to become an Augusta policeman.
Carter hired Joseph Sage and Brad Gallant as full-time officers, with Gallant the utility officer and Sage the officer to replace Sgt. David Bean, who retired on Nov. 22 after a 25-year career.
Gallant, formerly of the Mexico Police Department, graduated from the Maine Criminal Justice Academy on Dec. 17 and is now patrolling the streets for Rumford.
On Dec. 2, Noyes returned from a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan with the Army National Guard.
The E5 sergeant with the Guard then left Rumford police on Dec. 14 to become an Oxford County Sheriff's deputy serving Bethel. Noyes had served six years with Rumford police.
Three days later and on the same day that Gallant graduated from the state police academy, officer Ian Theriault left to become a Scarborough policeman.
The departures have left the department with less than the 12 officers Carter says he needs to provide 24/7 coverage, with each officer working 12-hour shift rotations.
“We need to run two men per shift, so that's four shifts and eight patrol officers that we need to have,” he said.
“The utility officer would be the ninth patrol officer and his function is to try and reduce overtime by filling vacancies, so I find him as a necessity.”
“So that's what our force is comprised of, to include myself and two detectives, and the detectives' major responsibilities are major crimes, drug investigations and child abuse investigations, and that keeps them more than busy,” Carter said.
“So, in order for us to run efficiently and try and keep costs down, we need 12 officers, including myself, which is below the New England or Northeast average of officers for a police department for a town of our population, according to FBI statistics.”
Counting Officer Belanger, who is still deployed until sometime next year, the department has 10 officers.
“I have reserves that are helping, although the regular patrol staff is working pretty steady to fill the voids,” Carter said.
With the departure of Sgt. Bean, the average age of department policemen dropped to about 30.
“Although we have several young officers, we still have a good complement of seasoned, experienced officers and two detectives,” Carter said.