Mexico police may soon be utilizing a motorcycle obtained through surplus military equipment. From left are Officer Eric Bernier, Chief Roy Hodsdon and Officer Nick Young. Submitted photo

MEXICO — For the third time since 2009, the Police Department has been awarded a federal grant of $266,000 to fully fund a fifth officer for three years.

The Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, grant covers salary and benefits, Chief Roy Hodsdon said.

“The fourth year, our obligation is to fund it completely, which is, in the realm of it, pretty cheap, after the three years,” he said. “I was very relieved. I don’t know of any other agency in Maine that was fully funded.”

“The purpose of the grant is either to rehire someone who has been laid off due to cuts, or to keep someone on who’s potentially going to be laid off, which is where we were at,” he said.

Hodsdon said then-Town Manager Jack Gaudet told him in February that if they didn’t get the grant they might cut an officer’s position because of a higher school budget and a higher the Med-Care assessment.

The new officer, Nick Young, keeps the department at a full five-member force. He passed his certification exam at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy and is waiting to take hands-on exams when it reopens.

Hodsdon said the grant is awarded based on criteria, including the town’s financial condition, unemployment rate of town/county, the poverty rate, and how the department utilizes the officer.

“Basically, they want the COPS grant to be community oriented,” he said.

Since becoming chief in 2014, he has expanded the Police Explorer program, started a Neighborhood Watch and a Senior Watch.

“With those programs, we’re able to mingle with the community,” he said.

Mexico is has fewer than 2,700 residents and a police force that handles 3,500 calls a year, he said.

Hodsdon has maintained a full five-member force for the past four years. They include Lt. Dan Carrier, Eric Bernier and Robert Drouin.

A couple officers really wanted the department to have a motorcycle, so Hodsdon got one from military surplus.

“It may not have been popular with some of the selectmen, but it is a great, great tool for the community,” the chief said. It will be used for some police details and patrols, but not chases.

The cost of lettering it, training officers on it and buying fuel will come from the drug forfeiture account.

Other grants the department has received has paid for equipment, including:

• Radios for the command center trailer and laptops for officer vehicles.

• A keyless entry system to the department and cameras to better track who is in the building.

• Communication headsets.

• Radios and lights for the the command center trailer.

• Tasers tasers and body cameras.

“We have to rely on grant money because the town doesn’t have the money to fund it,” he said, “We’re able to maintain our current budget without placing an extra burden on the citizens.”

Mexico Police Chief Roy Hodsdon. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

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