Dixfield votes to keep police department

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DIXFIELD — Residents on Tuesday voted 319-450 not to permanently disband the Police Department as of Dec. 31.

“We had a really good turnout,” Town Clerk Theresa Hemingway said.

Voters on Tuesday also approved enacting a wind energy facility ordinance and repealing one from June 12, 2012. The vote was 431-326.

The town has had a Police Department since 1948, according to the town website. There are three-full time officers, including Chief Jeff Howe, and six reserve officers. 

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At a public hearing this fall on whether to shut down the Police Department, several people questioned why it was being considered after a department budget was passed in June.

The budget is $383,480, but Town Manager Carlo Puiia said previously that adequate funding it would be around $415,000. He also said a study in 2014 concluded the facility the department shares with public works department is unsuitable.

Voters at the June town meeting rejected appropriating $25,000 for a police station reserve fund, which would include searching for a better facility.

“It’s not responsible for the community to be aware of (facility issues), have it studied and then do nothing. It’s on the people to address it,” Puiia said at that time. “You don’t have to get rid of your department. But if you continue to ignore this, are we being responsible? I think not,” he said.

Howe said previously, “Our goal is to get our department whole again; providing pretty good service with what we have now. I realize it’s a huge budget issue to find another facility or find a better way to use our current facility. We need to think outside the box.”

Dixfield is one of seven towns in Oxford County that have police departments.

bfarrin@sunmediagroup.net

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