DIXFIELD — The Board of Selectmen voted Monday evening against allowing police Chief Richard Pickett to apply for a new Community Oriented Policing Services grant that would pay for a fifth police officer for three years.

Pickett said the Police Department applied for a COPS grant in 2011 and was approved in September 2011. As a result, the department was able to hire a fifth police officer for three years. In return, the town would agree to pay the officer’s salary the fourth year.

“There’s a ‘maintenance of effort’ clause within the grant, which basically tells us that we can’t reduce the size of our force while the grant is in effect,” the chief said. If the town rescinded on the grant, it would have to pay back the grant.

“The reason I bring this up is because we have another COPS grant available to us,” Pickett said. “When I retire, we’ll be reduced to a four-person department, and as part of that ‘maintenance of effort’ clause, it requires that we have five officers.

“If you were to allow me to at least apply for the grant, and we were lucky enough to get it, we could get another officer on board, and during that year that you’re paying for the fifth officer’s salary, you’d still be meeting the grant’s requirements,” Pickett said. “The benefits of applying is that you’re looking at eight years total of having a five person department, with only two years of us paying for an officer’s salary. Studies have showed a lot of good things about having that extra person. There’s more closing of cases and our clearance statistics went up.”

Selectman Dana Whittemore said if the Police Department received the grant, he would vote against it.

“I just don’t like the lack of flexibility it offers us,” Whittemore said. “If we were to accept it, it would really limit our options if we wished to lower the budget or look at other options.”

Selectman Mac Gill made a motion that the board allow Pickett to apply for another COPS grant, but the motion died because of the lack of a second.

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