Dixfield Police Department evaluation reviewed

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DIXFIELD — The Board of Selectmen on Monday reviewed an evaluation from the Maine Chiefs of Police Association that pointed out ways to improve the Police Department.

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

Police Chief Richard Pickett told selectmen Monday that he thought the report “had some really good stuff in it. Now, we just need to figure out what we want to do with it.”

One of the major areas the report focused on was the Police Department’s evidence room and ways to improve it.

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“I talked with one of the chiefs from the study and they’re absolutely right about that,” Pickett said. “We’ve already started to take some steps in fixing that.”

Pickett said he would place a metal door with a deadbolt on the room across from the old evidence locker.

“One thing we’re going to do is cut a slot in the door so that we can drop evidence inside,” he said. “For example, if you’re out working at night, you come in from doing a burglary and the evidence technician responsible for handling everything is gone, you could package it up, drop it in the slot, and we’d have a place where they could log what they dropped in there,” he said.

“The only people who would have a key to the room is the evidence technician and myself,” Pickett said. “The next morning, the evidence technician would take the evidence, place it in her own log and place it in the evidence locker.”

Pickett said he has already assigned someone to be the evidence technician.

Selectman Hart Daley asked Pickett what an officer would do if they received “a large item,” or something that couldn’t fit in the evidence room slot.

“In that case, they would probably have to give me a call and I’d have to come in and take care of it,” he said.

The chief said the report also recommended that the department make it more clear to residents where in the building they should go for help.

The town garage and and Police Department are in the same building, Town Manager Linda Pagels-Wentworth said.

“We’re working right now on placing some signs at the entrance so people will know where the police are and where Public Works is,” she said.

Pickett told selectmen they “owed it to themselves to read through the entire report.”

In other business, the board agreed to make minor revisions to the town’s Personal Use of Town Vehicles policy, which was created in 2006.

Selectman Dana Whittemore said he’d like to see an amendment included in the policy that limited employees’ ability to take a town vehicle home unless there was inclement weather.

“I’d like to see some wording in there that would limit it to if we know that a storm is coming, and it makes sense for the vehicle to come into town from that direction,” Whittemore said. “In a situation like that, it might be a benefit for us.”

Selectman Scott Belskis said he would like any potential new hires to “show proof of owning a vehicle” before they get the job.

“If someone who works for the town doesn’t have a vehicle, and people only see them driving town vehicles, that doesn’t look good,” Belskis said.

Daley said he agreed with limiting the personal use of town vehicles to instances when the employee needs to pick up equipment or if there is a storm coming the next day.

“It wouldn’t take too much time to fix the policy, in terms of revision,” Whittemore said.

mdaigle@sunjournal.com

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