BANGOR (AP) – As more officers quit Aroostook County police departments to take higher-paying federal jobs, chiefs complain about the loss of money spent to train the departing officers.

Limestone has lost two officers this year and Fort Fairfield has lost two in the past two years. Presque Isle has lost one officer this year and expects to lose two more.

The officers apparently are leaving for more money, better benefits and, in some cases, a less demanding schedule, according to local police chiefs.

There’s no way local departments can match the bigger competition, Limestone Police Chief Stacey Mahan said.

“We used to compete with other departments. Now we’re competing with the federal government,” Mahan said. “It’s been harsh on the department.”

The chiefs would like to see the federal government reimburse local departments for the costs of training the officers, as Maine departments are required by law to do for each other.

Mandatory training at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in Vassalboro can cost around $18,000, a figure that includes tuition, travel, the officer’s salary and the cost of paying another officer to work vacant shifts.

By law, when an officer switches to another Maine law enforcement agency within five years of academy training, the department getting the officer reimburses the officer’s former department for the training cost.

That requirement doesn’t apply to the federal government, which hired police officers from Aroostook County for some of the 12 U.S. Customs positions that opened recently at stations in Houlton and Calais.

Customs officials say the federal department has no responsibility to reimburse local departments for losing officers.

“Anyone can apply for a job if they meet the requirements,” said Janet Rapaport, public affairs officer for Customs and Border Protection in New York. “But the employer is not responsible for reimbursement for training.

AP-ES-09-06-03 2021EDT

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