MEXICO — Voters elected John “Jack” Arsenault as selectman Tuesday and approved money for a police officer.

Arsenault received 278 votes, while Barbara Arsenault had 133 and Donald Bradley 105.

Arsenault will fill the remaining two years and eight months of Kevin Jamison’s term. Jamison was elected in June and resigned Oct. 2.

Arsenault has served the community for decades in various positions. After serving two years on the Mexico Select Board as chairman, he stepped down in 2001 to accept the position of full-time firefighter in Mexico. He was a firefighter for five years and has been a volunteer firefighter for 33 years.

He worked in the Rumford paper mill for 15 years as a security guard, and most recently served as a custodian and bus driver at Mountain Valley High School in Rumford. He is on the Mexico Planning Board.

Residents voted 455-120 to fund a police officer position. The town will allocate up to $215,000 from undesignated funds to retain and recruit police officers, including an additional officer. All unused money will return to surplus.


Police Chief Roy Hodsdon, who has worked for the department since 1997, said the request comes on the heels of what has become a national epidemic of police officer shortages, “drastic rise in complaints handled by our officers, more serious calls and the undue stress this has placed on our entire department.”

The five-person department is down to three after Robert Drouin went on medical leave recently. Hodsdon said Drouin is expected to be out for at least three months.

In June, Officer Dustin Broughton resigned. Since then, Hodsdon said his efforts to find a replacement resulted in “no viable applications.”

Since 2014 when he became chief, Hodsdon said he began to notice a substantial increase in calls for service, related to mental health, drugs, homelessness, thefts, juvenile crimes and critical incidents.

“With these types of incidents, our officers went from handling a call volume of an average of five calls per day to handling 18-plus calls per day. This increase is still being handled by the same size police force as 1997 — four patrol officers and a chief,” he said.

In 2005, the department handled 1,381 total incidents. In 2013, it went to 2,194. This year, the force has handled 3,130 incidents. “We are estimated to finish 2023 nearing 4,000 incidents, placing us in uncharted waters we have never seen,” he said.

The chief said that in September “we had a community forum to give our citizens a chance to voice their concerns and for our department to listen. It was obvious that our citizens did not feel safe to walk their own streets due to the incidents that are occurring in their neighborhood. This hit our department hard and we want to address their concerns.”

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