DIXFIELD — Police Chief Jeff Howe told selectmen Monday night that the police station is not a secure facility.

“If you expect a good, professional Police Department (with) professional officers, and a professional agency, you need a professional facility,” Howe said.

He pointed out that he and his officers work on sensitive documents at their desks, which are right in view of whomever comes into the station.

 The chief also gave an example of the safety issues the lack of security poses. He described an instance a few years ago when a suspect who was brought into the station became aggressive, and had to be removed.

“(I had) to get him out of the office, so I had to take him out into a hallway where there are public workers, bus crew workers, and if there are any civilians that have free access to walk through the front door. The unit facility is not a safe facility for a police station,” Howe said.

He said he was concerned that he had brought up the issues with the facility previously and no action had been taken.


“We honestly cannot continue there because of the security issues,” Howe said.

Selectmen discussed several options to fix the issues Howe brought to their attention.

Board Chairman Hart Daley agreed with the chief on the importance of maintaining a safe and secure facility.

“I think that when the town voiced their concern that they wanted a police department 24 hours a day, seven days week, my own personal feeling is that you guys need to be in a much better facility,” Daley said.

The other selectmen seemed to share his opinion, and discussed other venues that could be purchased and converted into a suitable station. Norine Clarke suggested the chief look into the log cabin she used for her business, and others suggested the old Catholic church.

“I don’t want to offend you in any way,” said Norman Mitchell, “but this may be an opportunity to have the Sheriff’s Department cover this town. (They) wouldn’t have to build a police department in Dixfield; they already have a police department.”


The chief reminded Mitchell that the residents of Dixfield have made their wants clear: 24/7 coverage of the town by a police department. Mitchell agreed, but said that dollars matter as well.

Selectmen decided to discuss the possibility of having a public hearing or straw poll vote in November to decide what action Dixfield residents want to take. Those attending the meeting stressed how important it is to provide numbers to the voters, so they can make an informed decision.

Howe also informed selectmen of a resignation in the department.

Officer Eric Bernier will be leaving the force for another career, not in law enforcement but still helping people, Howe said.

Bernier’s last day is Sept. 23. He was with the force for 11 years, and Howe said one of the reasons Bernier chose to leave the force was because of the state of the department’s facility.


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