LEWISTON — The Portland police chief made waves Thursday when he announced that non-citizens and marijuana users will now be welcome to apply for jobs as cops.

To the north, however, police chiefs in Lewiston and Auburn say there are no plans to follow suit.

“The Auburn Police Department has not made any changes to our hiring policy,” said police Chief Phil Crowell, “and we don’t expect to see any changes in the future.”

“I don’t anticipate any changes,” said Lewiston police Chief Brian O’Malley, who also included a link to the department’s requirements for new recruits.

At the Lewiston and Auburn departments, application criteria includes U.S. citizenship. The Lewiston department requires a Certificate of Citizenship for naturalized or repatriated citizens.

In Portland, two changes to the hiring policy was announced Thursday. Non-citizen officer candidates can now qualify so long as they have been granted a permanent right to work in the United States. And applicants who have recently used marijuana will be considered on a case-by-case basis, the department said.

Which is not to say that all pot users will be welcome with open arms.

“If you smoke a joint in a parking lot before you come in to take a test,” said Portland police Chief Michael Sauschuck, “it’s probably not going to go good.”

Lewiston’s criteria on the matter is more specific when it comes to marijuana users applying to be cops.

“No marijuana/hashish use in the last three years,” according to the policy, “and no excessive marijuana/hashish use beyond the age of 21.”

While Auburn’s criteria is less specific, the hiring process does involve background investigations of potential recruits, including investigations into applicants’ use of substances.

Some departments around the country have opted to relax hiring standards in response to recent struggles to attract police officers, a situation described by one criminal justice lecturer as “a national crisis.”


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