RUMFORD — Citing public frustration, the Police Department has turned to social media to share the outcomes of its cases brought to the courts.

Rumford Police Chief Tony Milligan Submitted photo

Since Aug. 2, Chief Tony Milligan has posted two reports on the department’s Facebook page reviewing case-by-case reports of charges that were dismissed or deferred in court.

“People were getting mad at the police and were assuming that the police were not doing their job,” he said Wednesday. “I saw this as being an unfair assessment based upon misplaced frustration.

“My thought was that we did a fairly good job informing people about our calls for service and about people charged with criminal violations … but was almost never reporting ‘the rest of the story’ after the case was finalized in court. That was something I decided needed to be fixed to help better inform and educate the public.”

Milligan said his intent was to give the community a better understanding of how the department works and what they are facing each day.

“As public awareness and interest grew around public safety, so did some misconceptions about how the judicial process works,” he said. “As people saw our calls for service increase and people getting charged on a variety of crimes, they became frustrated when they saw the same people’s names in the activity report over and over again, angry that they were let out, and not knowing whatever happened with the charges after they went to court,” he said.


Milligan said that led to his decision to start posting the report of final dispositions — the same information published in newspapers — on the department’s Facebook page.

“We routinely see ‘dismissed — dismissed — dismissed’ or ‘deferred disposition’ for cases that we felt deserved more accountability,” he said. “But that’s not our role in the criminal justice process. We bring defendants to justice and the prosecutor, defense attorney and the judge take it from there, most times with no further involvement from the police unless there is a hearing or trial, which are very seldom these days.”

Milligan said that after the first Facebook post “a dialog erupted on social media and on the streets about the displeasure of these outcomes. This prompted our district attorney to post more details on the process, as well as some supplemental details on the outcomes — a lot of which we didn’t know ourselves. Some had suggested and given me praise for taking on the courts and DA’s Office by posting the information. Although I appreciated the support, this was certainly not my intent. I have no interest in driving a wedge between the Police Department and the judicial system … and I reached out personally to our district attorney and assured him of that.”

Among the commenters on Facebook were:

• “That is pretty eye-opening no one is being held accountable for their actions. This will only increase when there are no consequences.”


• “What can we do for justice to be done after our police force risks their lives to stop the criminals? Who do we contact to make our laws be a deterrent to crime again? Is it the governor’s office, our elected congressional representatives?”

• “I find it very disturbing to see so many dismissals by the courts. It makes you look like you are arresting innocent people.”

• “No wonder police officers get burned out! Dealing with the same offenders over and over and watching the broken justice system set them free to commit another crime.”

• “Our community is absolutely saturated with drugs and crime and these are the outcomes? How is this ever going to get better?”

On the second Facebook post Sept. 6, Milligan said he decided to include information to better help people understand what some of the outcomes mean and to point out there may be other charges that were pleaded to that are not included in the report.

“This seemed to help a bit, but it didn’t change how people were feeling about the apparent lack of accountability when someone commits a crime,” he said. “This prompted further dialog within the community and soon thereafter, a movement to form a town hall-style public meeting … ”


That meeting Sept. 15 in Mexico included representatives from law enforcement, the state Legislature, a prosecutor and public service providers.

“I attended the meeting and spoke as to the current state of the River Valley area from a public safety standpoint from my view, citing frustration/concern over the apparent or inconsistent accountability of those committing crimes, the growing number of calls we respond to, the harder it is to keep and recruit new police officers, and the things that seem to threaten public safety and quality of life in our area,” the chief said.

He said police responded to 6,468 calls in fiscal year 2022-23, which is 9% more than the previous year and 24% more than five years ago.

“There is no simple answer to fix it,” he said.

“The unfortunate reality is that drugs often lead to some form of mental illness (or vice versa) and oftentimes homelessness,” he said. “We don’t have nearly enough resources to help all of these people that desperately need help, but to be fair, a lot of these people are not willing or ready for the help either — and these are the ones that law enforcement deal with a lot.”

Milligan said it takes a community “to fix a mess like this. I am encouraged to see so many people getting engaged and talking about this situation. We need to talk with our elected officials in Augusta because I firmly believe that real change starts at the Legislature.

“People are frustrated and I can’t blame them,” the chief said. “This is a complicated problem and will take some time to address. Pointing fingers and assigning blame is easy, but to be more productive, more town hall-style meetings and sending ‘testimony’ via email or appearing in person or via Zoom during a legislative workshop is what needs to happen. The policymakers in Augusta need input from the community. Getting involved effects change … complaining on Facebook doesn’t effectively get it done,” he said.

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