Dixfield selectmen vote to organize search committee for new police chief

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DIXFIELD — The Board of Selectmen voted 3-1 Monday evening to organize a committee to search for a new chief of police.

Chief Richard A. Pickett is leaving the position in late January.

Town Manager Carlo Puiia said that when Pickett first announced his retirement, the board agreed to contact the Maine Chiefs of Police Association to ask about the process of finding a successor.

Selectmen later decided to sit in on a joint Mexico and Rumford selectmen meeting Nov. 24 to hear proposals for Oxford County Sheriff’s Office coverage and disbanding Mexico and Rumford police departments, or merging the two police departments.

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The following day, Mexico police Chief Roy Hodsdon attended Dixfield’s Board of Selectmen meeting to hear a proposal for him to serve as police chief for Mexico and Dixfield.

Puiia said at Monday’s meeting that Dixfield had an obligation to have a five-man police department, per a grant that expires in January 2016.

“I think that we have two choices,” Puiia said. “We can continue to research consolidation efforts, whether it’s through one of our neighboring towns or the Oxford County Sheriff Office’s proposal, or we could form a committee to get together and hire a chief.”

An interim chief would be needed in the event the committee could not hire a new chief by late January.

“You should really do what is in the best interest of Dixfield,” Puiia said.

Selectman Malcolm Gill said if the committee could not find a new chief, they could hire Lt. Jeff Howe to be interim chief.

“I know that Chief Pickett has shown a lot of confidence in his lieutenant, so I think that could work,” Selectman Dana Whittemore said.

Puiia said he had a list of eight people who had shown interest in serving on the search committee.

Pickett said he was hoping to serve on the committee and wanted to see “all sorts of people involved in the process.”

“I think there should be citizens, people from the clergy, people from law enforcement,” Pickett said. “Anybody who has any sort of interaction with the police force.”

Board of Selectmen Chairman Scott Belskis, Whittemore and Gill voted in favor of forming a committee.

Selectman Hart Daley abstained because he is chief deputy with the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office.

mdaigle@sunjournal.com

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