RUMFORD — Police administrative officer Matthew Desroches’s job ended Friday afternoon due to budget cuts that don’t go to voters until Tuesday, July 23.

And the Rumford police dispatch center that Desroches manned closed at 4 p.m. for the same reason.

After the initial $7.6 million municipal budget minus initiated article funding requests was defeated by voters June 11, selectmen and the Finance Committee began creating a lower budget.

Selectmen pared $1.07 million to recommend $6.52 million and the Finance Committee pared $430,036 to recommend $7.17 million.

Voters rejected the proposed $817,656 police budget, so selectmen approved $716,274. They cut a detective’s position, Desroches’s job and a utility officer used by Chief Stacy Carter to reduce overtime.

The Finance Committee added $50,000 to the police budget to keep the detective, but not the positions of Desroches and the utility officer. The committee’s new recommendation is $761,274.

At Thursday night’s public hearing on the new municipal budget, Carter told a large crowd and town officials in Rumford Falls Auditorium that Desroches’s job and the dispatch center would be gone by day’s end Friday.

“Both (selectmen and Finance Committee recommendation) numbers will lose the dispatch center that’s downstairs and the police officer that is the first person to meet people” entering the station, Carter said.

“We’re not going to get that back with either number, so when you call the Police Department now, it’s going to be picked up by the Oxford County dispatch center (in Paris), you ask for an officer and an officer will get in touch with you,” he said.

A sign was posted on the Rumford police station window on Friday, advising the public of the change.

It tells people they can dial 911 for an emergency; use the red phone in the gray box outside the station door, which goes to Oxford County Regional Communications Center in Paris, and a dispatcher will contact a Rumford police officer for the person; or call 1-800-733-1421, press Option 2 and speak with a Paris dispatcher.

But Carter said the biggest change should voters opt for the selectmen’s budget is the loss of the detective position.

“The detectives do the major crimes,” Carter said. “They are instrumental in doing our drug investigations….With the help of the community, we still need both officers to do this.”

Carter said cutting the detective position would severely limit the department’s ability without spending additional overtime money to do drug investigations.

“Drug use and the sale of them … is the nexus of most of the criminal activity that we deal with — the thefts, the sexual assaults that are sometimes drug and alcohol related, the burglaries,” he said.

“So it’s very important for us to have as many resources available to try and be proactive and not just reactive.”

Throughout budget hearings, town officials and residents have said the police budget should be reduced to reflect Rumford’s declining population.

That doesn’t mean much to Carter, he said, because police aren’t seeing a population decline. Instead, they’re seeing an influx of people taking advantage of Rumford’s service-center community and renting apartments.

“We have people that come into this town for good and bad reasons and we are dealing with all of them,” Carter said.

He said Rumford has been compared to Paris because its population is similar. However, police calls for service vary greatly. Its calls for service in 2012 were 1,998, whereas in Rumford they were 4,382.

“It’s not just the population,” Carter said. “You have to consider demographics here…We are dealing with a lot of people in a very confined area which is generating a lot of complaints.”

For comparison, he said the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office calls for service countywide in 2012 were 6,080.

Carter said he needs police officers on the streets and detectives trying to reduce Rumford’s drug problems, which in turn will reduce associated criminal activity.

“So I would ask that citizens approve the Finance Committee recommendation,” he said. “That would keep us at a reduced budget, but at an adequate number for us to respond to the calls for service so that we can provide a safe, happy place to live, work and play.”

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