MONMOUTH – Tempers were smothered last night after town officials hesitantly announced that Monmouth will keep its full-time Police Department.

Selectman Leonard Bates said the department will be kept intact but will need to be tweaked and restructured by the next budget meeting.

“We voted for a full-time police department and that is what we are going to have,” he said. His words were followed by a thunder of applause from the audience.

Of the 2,104 votes that were cast on the Police Department question, 914 voters supported keeping a full-time police force, 719 of reducing it to part-time and 517 to discontinue it.

The department has been in operation for about a decade.

In the eyes of Selectman Shephen Kolenda, the needed 51 percent to keep the police force was not met, and therefore the vote was to be used as an advisory to the budget committee.

“Forty-three percent of the people voted to keep a full-time police department, there was another 57 percent that voted for something different,” he said. “This could be looked at in a couple different ways.”

The crowd was displeased. Resident Mitchell Lovering protested that Kolenda’s 51 percent clause was not mentioned on the ballot, and to go against the popular vote was unjust.

“For the last four months we have all sat here, all the same identical faces, and we’ve all been telling you the same thing: We want a police department,” Lovering said. “They said it in 1999, and now they are saying it in 2004. How can you sit there and give us anything but a full-time police department?”

After the meeting, resident Paul Duquette said he felt better knowing that “my police will not be disgruntled and be able to provide better safety and protection to our community.”

Jason Simcock, who was selected Wednesday night to succeed Town Manager Steven Dyer beginning Nov. 22, said he is pleased the town has agreed to side with the voice of the people.

“Obviously you’ve got to listen to what the community wants, and if the community feels as though it needs a police department, then that is what it should have,” he said.

Police Capt. Stan Walker said, “I hope they support us and just let us go back to work.”

In other news, the town favored secret-ballot voting at town meetings. Dyer said the town will hold various informative meetings to ensure that the voters are familiar with the various issues they must decide.

After serving as town manager for about 11 years, Dyer’s last day with the town will be today, and then he will become town manager for Oakland. Mary Mead is acting town manager until Simcock takes over.

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