Mexico Police Chief Roy Hodsdon works in his office. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

MEXICO — The Police Department is offering a $10,000 signing bonus, a retirement package and cruiser privileges as incentives to fill two vacancies on its five-person force.

The recruitment package was approved by selectmen a month ago but as of Friday there had been no applicants, Town Manager Raquel Welch said. She said she believes their efforts are being hampered by rumors that the department is going to disband and contract the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office for coverage.

“People are hesitant to apply because of that rumor,” she said.

She and selectmen “support the Police Department and keeping the service local. We appreciate all the hard work they’re putting in, and we encourage people to apply,” she said.

Over the past year, Daniel Carrier left to join the Sheriff’s Office and Nick Young left to join the Maine State Police.

Police Chief Roy Hodsdon is working days and Patrolmen Robert Drouin and Dustin Broughton work nights.

“We’re also currently pulling from reserves with two who are able to work,” Hodsdon said Saturday. “We have a few more but they are not able to work due to their work and the shortage of officers everywhere … We just keep plugging away, he said, and “want everyone to realize that it’s still normal operating procedures here, still providing 24-hour coverage.”

Hodsdon said he put the incentive package together after talking to chiefs of other smaller police agencies throughout the state.

“I found they were having similar issues to us because they were losing people to larger agencies — state police, sheriff’s department,” he said. “The key factors were cruiser, retirement and better benefit packages. They found that when they stepped up and offered those incentives, they were able to retain and recruit new officers to their force … That’s why I told the town we need to think outside the box for what our recruitment and retention is. That’s why I offered that package,” he said, which the Board of Selectmen agreed to.

The package includes a $10,000 sign-on bonus payable over five years, Maine State Retirement plan and a cruiser to take home.

Hodsdon said there’s support and commitment for local policing.

“We’re definitely a community-oriented Police Department,” he said. “We were all raised in this area, so we all have a commitment to the community. We all want to continue working here and provide not only police service, but community service. We want to get our Explorer program up and running, and be able to offer other programs that we started, and add to that.”

The Explorer program would serve those 14 to 20 years old who are interested in law enforcement.

He said residents are “definitely pro-police and are appreciative for our Police Department.”

“Nothing happens overnight, but I’m optimistic that we’ll get some people who are looking for a change or something different,” he said

For more information about the positions, contact Hodsdon at [email protected] or call 364-5686.

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