New Mexico Police Officer Ashley Rich with Police Chief Roy Hodsdon. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times


MEXICO — Veteran Police Officer Ashley Rich, who has been serving as a school resource officer in Norway, began her patrol duties on March 28 with the Mexico Police Department.
Rich, 36, applied for the position roughly the same time that Chief Roy Hodsdon severely injured his ankle in a non-work related injury.
Due to being down an officer, Hodsdon said he had been on patrol for about a year. As a result, Hodsdon said the administration end, including investigations, has suffered.
With Rich, the department is now at its full complement of five officers.
Hodsdon said, “So she comes to us with a lot of experience and training in this area. She’s a great fit, and had made a huge impression to us right off. She’s been able to step right in.”
He said Rich is academy trained, is familiar with administrative work. “She knows the area, knows the people, and is a very hard worker. She’s going to be a great asset for us.”
Rich, in her fifth year as an officer, began with Rumford PD in 2016 before leaving to become a school resource officer with the Rowe School in Norway at the start of this school year.
A resident of Mexico, Rich said she did not like traveling back and forth to work. “That was a big struggle for me in Norway. I didn’t know anybody. I didn’t know how to find people.”
She said she will continue in a part time role as SRO until the end of the school year, which includes helping train her replacement there.
Rich added, “I grew up right here, so I know everybody, one way or another.”
She grew up in Byron and graduated Mountain Valley High School in Rumford.
Hodsdon said an added bonus is that this position is paid for by a Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant that has been idle since 2019 or 2020.
He believes there is another two pay years remaining of the grant.
A COPS program hiring grant is limited to 75 percent of each hired officer’s salary and fringe benefits, normally up to a “3-year cap” of $75,000.
Normally, grantees were required to match the grants with at least 25 percent of program costs, to submit acceptable
strategies for implementing community policing in their jurisdictions, and to retain the COPS-funded officer positions using local funds after the 3-year grants expired. Funds were authorized to reimburse up to $5,000 of training costs for
former military personnel hired under the Act.
Hodsdon, about to enter his 25th year with the department, said, “It’s such a ripple effect when you’re down officers; how it affects the whole department. You can never get a set schedule. So with her here, that puts us back at that level where we can all contribute equally.”
He also noted that there’s a shortage of female police officers everywhere. “There’s so many that are needed. They have a way of calming people.”
Rich joins Lt. Derek MacDonald, Dustin Broughton and Robert Drouin on the police force.

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