Short takes on the week’s news


Cheers to the Lewiston Police Department’s commitment to the community.

On Thursday, the LPD officially opened its new substation on Bates Street, staffed by four officers whose complete focus will be on community policing.

Remember community policing? When foot patrols were the norm in the downtown?

These patrols are back, modernized and improved.

The community policing unit will partner with downtown social service agencies, the recreation department, educators and the general public to erase graffiti, clean up litter, reduce activities of criminal mischief, clamp down on public consumption of booze and generally work to reduce blight.

They’ll do all this with foot patrols, bike patrols and attending community events to build relationships with those who live and work in the downtown. And, of course, the front door to the substation is open to visitors.

This new program, according to Sgt. Marc Robitaille, is not a program. It’s a philosophy.

It’s also a terrific idea to involve the public in policing itself.

Cheers to the Maine Human Rights Commission for reversing itself, preparing now to schedule a hearing to gather public input before reaching a recommendation for schools regarding bathroom access for transgender teens in Maine’s schools.

The commission met Monday intending to come to some recommendation, but had already publicly announced its lean toward advising schools to permit transgender students to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with, not that of their birth gender. That was based on how the commission interprets the 2005 Maine Human Rights Act and how it has ruled on several discrimination cases in recent years.

Whatever recommendation the commission reaches does not carry the force of law, which means schools would not face lawsuits should they dictate bathroom access based on biological gender alone. Or does it?

Any recommendation of the commission would surely be considered with significant weight in a civil lawsuit, and commissioners had to know this topic would be controversial, but did not take the extra step to permit public input — until the public demanded it Monday.

There is, as Maine Principals Association Executive Director Richard Durost recognizes, “an awful lot of emotion on both sides of the issue.” It seems the Maine Human Rights Commission now recognizes that fact, and will permit Mainers to exercise their right to speak.

Cheers to Bates College students who, for the third year running, have earned national recognition for their commitment to community service. The college has thrice been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction, the highest community service award bestowed on colleges in this country.

Community service is a noble goal, and one that Bates College has long pursued. It’s terrific that students are so devoted to the cause, working around the tremendous demands on academics and athletics as they move through Bates’ four-year program. And, while the students certainly benefit from the work, the people who really benefit are the people of Lewiston.

Bates students volunteer in local schools, mentoring and tutoring children; they help winterize homes for low-income residents; they volunteer at our hospitals and in our social service agencies, doing what they can to make Lewiston a better place to live and work.

We thank them for their service and congratulate them for being recognized.

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