RUMFORD – Continued political infighting between selectmen is doing more than just stirring up angst. It’s also undermining job security in the Police Department, the chief acknowledged Wednesday.

So far, twins Paul and Peter Casey have resigned as patrolmen to seek employment elsewhere. They were on the force for three years.

Paul Casey, the department’s field training officer, left in January to become a Maine State Police trooper. His brother, who recently joined the Marine Reserves, was accepted into a training program and is headed for Iraq.

Chief Stacy Carter said their departures were due to job security.

Additionally, as of Wednesday, two-year Detective Lt. Mark Cayer resigned to become a self-employed private detective, possibly in the Lewiston-Auburn area. He said the budget outlook prompted his move.

Carter said Wednesday that despite the losses of trained officers, the turmoil has not and will not affect job performance.

“With this political atmosphere, we do feel it here, but we come to work each day knowing that we have a mission to accomplish and law enforcement duties to perform,” Carter said. “We try to distance ourselves from the political atmosphere, knowing that we have a job to do … Whatever happens upstairs or throughout town, we’re going to provide law enforcement. That’s what we’re paid to do.”

Despite the insecurity, police morale remains high, the chief said. Many officers are working longer hours but reserve officers are being used to minimize overtime.

There are 11 full-time and 5 part-time officers left in the the department, including the chief.

“It’s a hardship … not knowing if budget cuts mean job cuts. But this has been going on for several years. When we get to budget time, there’s always this pending feeling there will be cuts, which causes people to look elsewhere to feel secure in jobs.

“Not only does worries on the budget and a lack of job security affect us, but when someone tries to get the Sheriff’s Office to take over here, that certainly causes more insecurity,” Carter said.

He was referring to the March 6 selectmen’s meeting when Carter said Selectman Mark Belanger, acting individually, sought a presentation and proposal of costs for the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office to provide police services to Rumford.

“We have the largest community in Oxford County. I find it pretty ludicrous that somebody else can provide law enforcement coverage in this community other than the Rumford Police Department, which has been in existence for over a hundred years,” Carter told Belanger that night.

Belanger responded that it was county Sheriff Wayne Gallant of Rumford who’d approached him regarding the matter. But Gallant, who was in the audience, took the podium and sternly rebuked Belanger.

Contacted Wednesday by phone in Augusta, Gallant said he told the board that Belanger had called him, then met with him and asked Gallant to put together a plan. Gallant said he wouldn’t do it without an invite from the full board.

“Now, I have no intention at all to give a presentation to Rumford, not after that,” he said.

Regarding the March 6 selectmen’s meeting and unrest, Carter said Wednesday, “To magnify that, it makes it more difficult to recruit. I understand the need to be more fiscally responsible, but when that causes a lack of retention and the need to rehire and retrain, I don’t call that being fiscally responsible. I can replace officers, but I can’t replace that experience.”

So far, the chief has only hired reserve Officer Jennifer Cramer as a full-time patrolwoman to replace Paul Casey.

During the search to find another detective to replace Cayer, Carter said Detective Sgt. Daniel Garbarini will become the acting detective lieutenant pending promotion or outside hiring.

“The town, hopefully, will come together and bring the instability to an end. We just need to get through these trouble spots,” Carter added.

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