DIXFIELD — Selectmen have instructed Town Manager Dustin Starbuck to determine how much the town could save in overtime if it hires a fifth police officer with federal money.

The department has three full-time officers, including the chief, and five reserve officers. A fourth, full-time position is vacant.

Former Dixfield Police Chief Richard Pickett asked if the town had considered a COPS grant to try get another officer. “That worked out quite well for us, a few years back,” he said.

The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, is the component of the U.S. Department of Justice responsible for advancing community policing by state, local, territorial, and tribal law enforcement agencies through information and grants

“The COPS grant is out,” Police Chief Aaron Mick told selectmen at their Jan 27 meeting, because applications are due March 11.

The grant pays the officer’s salary the first three years; the town pays it the fourth.

Selectman Pete Holman asked if the rules are the same as in previous years.

“Same deal,” Starbuck said. “And if we didn’t honor the fourth year, we’d have to pay it all back. And we don’t want that.”

Pickett said when he was chief, the department had five officers, one of them paid with the COPS grant. He said it saved the overtime costs.

“The COPS grant is a very good deal. It works very well,” he said.

Mick said his department has a full-time opening, but the grant would be for a fifth officer.

Selectman Norm Mitchell opposed having a fifth officer. “If it was to fill the vacant opening, I’d be all for it,” he said.

Starbuck estimated the town would have to set aside $20,000 each of first three years to cover the salary in the fourth year.

Pickett encouraged officials to research the amount of money the town saved in overtime from the last COPS grant.

Starbuck will present those figures at the Feb. 10 board meeting.

Meanwhile, Mick will complete a grant application should the board OK submitting one.

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