MEXICO — After months of concern about staffing the Police Department, two new officers start this week to fill the gap.
Zack Bisson, 23, of Mechanic Falls, and Holli Pullen, 28, of Norway, both started working full time for the department this week.
Bisson was previously a reserve officer for Oxford Police Department and Mechanic Falls Police Department. Bisson said he has worked for one year as a reserve.
Bisson has more than 600 hours of on-the-job training, which is required to work with the Oxford Police Department, he said.
He was appointed by the Board of Selectman on Jan. 24 and Lt. Roy Hodsdon said during the meeting he will be required to attend the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in Vassalboro.
Pullen brings a little more experience, with six years as a full-time police officer with the Norway Police Department.
Mexico Town Manager John Madigan said he felt lucky to have both officers and felt fortunate that the town would save money in hiring Pullen.
Madigan said state law requires that towns that hire officers who are already commissioned, and working elsewhere, are required to reimburse the cost of training to the town that paid for the officer to attend the academy.
The law has a five-year limit and the amount required to be reimbursed decreases after each year, but costs can amount to $30,000, Madigan said.
The town has experienced problems in the past with keeping qualified officers on staff, and Madigan believed it was due to competition from larger departments.
Mexico police officer Kyle Matthews resigned from the department in November to become a security officer at Bates College, and shortly after officer Joshua Aylward resigned.
"We were down to three officers a couple of weeks ago," Madigan said.
Small towns are often used as a stepping stone for young officers who are looking for better pay, benefits and a chance to promote, Madigan said. He also said it was difficult to work in a small department when only one officer is on duty at a time.
"We are fortunate all three towns are relatively close and we can back each other up," he said.