BETHEL — Four decades of work by the Bethel Police Department officially ended Thursday morning when the town’s new contract for police coverage with the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office began.

Sheriff Wayne Gallant and deputies now assigned to patrol Bethel have been making the transition into the area for the past two weeks after a majority of voters at last month’s town meeting authorized selectmen to contract with the sheriff’s office.

On Thursday, Gallant continued to move supplies and equipment from the police station at the town office on Main Street into the new Bethel Patrol substation in the Mahoosuc Land Trust building beside Route 2. Signs will soon be erected.

“We’ve been up here all day and we’ve got our guys all in place,” Gallant said. “We were already covering the town for almost two weeks on evening and night shifts and my guys have made five arrests so far. All in all, this is a good town and a quiet town.”

Those arrests involve drunken driving, operating after suspension, check forging and criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon.

Gallant said he has assigned Deputies Douglas Taft, Danielle “Dani” Welch and Robert Ryder to Bethel Patrol.

Taft, who will work days, has more than 30 years in law enforcement and has worked as the school resource officer at Sacopee Valley High School in Hiram.

Welch, a former Bethel officer who will work nights, has nine years of full-time law enforcement work, and Ryder will work swing shifts. He has 22 years of law enforcement experience and previously worked for Westbrook police.

“These three are assigned here, but we have the depth for more, like today, there were four of us up here,” Gallant said. “So there will certainly be a more visible presence of law enforcement here with us and state police.”

“All in all, things are in place and working good.”

Gallant, who works Wednesdays from the Rumford substation, will also be working from Bethel at times.

“This is a busy time for us, because we’re in the process of converting eight cruisers and I’ve budgeted a new one for Bethel.”

He said Bethel’s black and white cruisers must be painted white and their radios must be reprogrammed to match county units. Likewise with laptop computers and phone lines.

“We’ve already got the original telephone number that went to the Bethel Police Department — 824-3437 — because I didn’t want to cut anyone short who might try calling it still,” Gallant said.

To reach the new deputies for non-emergencies, he advised people to call this number, which, if not picked up after three rings, would be transferred to dispatch in Paris.

“Anyone calling will still be able to get an officer quickly,” he said. In emergencies, call 9-1-1.

On Thursday night, Bethel Patrol and Gallant were to meet with Bethel firefighters and emergency responders to learn each other’s protocols and become more efficient.

“We’re anxious to serve up here, and I think the people are going to be pleased with our coverage,” he said.

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