Dixfield chief, selectmen continue evaluation of Police Department

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DIXFIELD — The Board of Selectmen heard from police Chief Richard Pickett on Monday about improvements to the department recommended by the Maine Chiefs of Police Association.

“I think that the chiefs were pretty thorough in what they did,” Pickett said. “One of the major things that they focused on in their study was the facility that the department is located in.”

The Police Department is in the same building as the Public Works Department.

“Besides the fact that the building is an insecure facility for our department, the report said that it wasn’t good to have the department in a building with so many exhaust fumes and those kinds of things,” Pickett said.

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Town Manager Linda Pagels-Wentworth said she had a preliminary talk with RSU 10 Superintendent Craig King about the possibility of using district space.

“Nothing is set in stone as of yet, but there are some options that I’m hoping to bring back to you that will be viable without having to build a $150,000 building,” Pickett said.

The chief said the evidence room improvements are coming along nicely.

“We have an officer assigned to the evidence room right now, and we’ve been working hard on setting it up and getting it into decent shape,” he said. “We have five lockers from Med-Care (ambulance service) that are stored in another facility. I’ve asked Calvin (Beaumier, Public Works director) to get them out of storage and bring them down here so we could put them in our room.”

The evaluation also recommended that the department improve its phone system.

“I agree wholeheartedly that the phone system we had sucked,” Pickett said. “I know that is was frustrating for people when they tried calling us before. One of the problems we had was that when they called, our voice mail was a recording of our voices, so when they were supposed to be leaving a message, they’d be saying, ‘Hello,’ waiting for us to answer.

“Fortunately, we have our new phone system up and running,” he said.

The evaluation also recommended that the department improve its communication with the schools.

“I’m not sure where that came from, as we’re in the school quite a lot,” the chief said, “but we’ll do whatever needs to be done to fix it.”

He pointed out that Lt. Jeff Howe will be at Dirigo High School in March to speak in two classes, while he and officer Anne Simmons-Edmunds will be doing Read Across America again, where people read to students at local schools.

Pickett said that to better promote the officers’ identities, he will post their names and pictures on the town website and the Police Department’s Facebook page.

“I also want to try and organize a get-together between residents and the police to talk about any issues or concerns they have in the area,” he said. “It won’t be like the neighborhood watch that Mexico is doing, but more like a meet-and-greet. As long as everyone remains civil, I’m all for it.”

The board voted this past November to pay $6,000 for an evaluation by the association, which is made up of active and retired police chiefs, sheriffs and senior law enforcement leaders.

mdaigle@sunjournal.com

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