FARMINGTON — Police Chief Kenneth Charles shared with selectmen Tuesday an update on a mass shooting preparedness plan for the town, spurred by the Lewiston mass shooting last month.

Charles said he talked with interim town manager Stephen Eldridge after the recent shootings in Lewiston, and thought it might be a good idea to talk about planning and the department’s process.

Charles had been moose hunting in Fort Kent On Oct. 25 when he first heard about what happened, and made plans to return to Farmington.

“I felt it was important to get back,” he said. “I was able to break away. It was good to get back and start to do some planning for whatever eventuality. If the manhunt extended beyond a couple days, I think the pace of the officers who were responding was probably unsustainable and there may be a need for them to reach out; we would have to provide some resources.”

While that didn’t come to pass, it reiterated many issues Charles has been planning for.

“If we are prepared, it mitigates some of the challenges we are actually responding to in an event like that,” he noted. “Never would I have thought that it would happen here.”


Charles didn’t share operational details, but said outside experts were brought in to help develop officers’ abilities to respond to an active shooter threat. Training focused on how to enter and clear a building, how to work as a team, and how to use the tools provided, he noted. Also highlighted were gaps in training and equipment, he stated.

“I would like to think that we operate as a department in a fiscally responsible manner,” Charles said. “I think one of the hardest things you can do is ask for money for something you hope will never happen. Nonetheless, I started to prioritize the training aspect. We have a healthy training account; that has been helpful. We have been coordinating with other local agencies to begin talking about a larger active shooter training event.”

The Lewiston shootings highlighted the need for that additional training, he noted. As a result, Charles made unplanned purchases, including equipping officers with individual first aid kits, and active shooter casualty response kits have been ordered for each officer.

The kits are kept on the vehicle seat and provide care for the officer, their fellow officers, and involved victims at a cost of about $6,700.

“I hope we never have to use them,” Charles said.

All officers have basic carbine rifles, he said. He found pricing deals on weapon-mounted lights.


“When the shooter left both events, he ends up unknown at night. I felt it was important to provide illumination opportunities for the officers,” Charles said.

Monday evening, firearms instructor Ryan Rosie put officers through several hours of low light/no light training at the transfer station, Charles said.

“It spoke to the ability of our officers with their assigned weapons,” he said. “I want to make sure officers have the equipment they need to take care of themselves. If they take care of themselves, they can help take care of the community.”

Selectman Joshua Bell asked if Charles had coordinated with the hospital, university and the schools. Charles said that it had been a long time since an active shooting training was held, but that the department has a pretty good connection at the hospital, especially through the ambulance service.

“As we plan for the larger, more regional response, that will include the fire department — perhaps public works as a support to help manage traffic,” he said. “These are things we kind of had in the works.”

Additionally, school resource officer Matt Brann is an Avoid, Deny, Defend program instructor, who trains school staff, works with the kids and helps local businesses and other facilities, Charles said.


Selectman Dennis O’Neil compared training costs to prepare for something that may never happen to purchasing insurance coverage. “I have no problems buying insurance in terms of training,” he said.

Selectman Stephan Bunker thought ongoing lessons learned from the Lewiston event might be shared by the Maine Chiefs of Police Association. Charles said that topic came up at an association conference last week.

“Unfortunately because of the nature of the incident, it’s probably going to be outside of the normal, what we do here at the state,” he said. “It’s going to be federal.”

Charles said that identifying things that were missed or that could have been done better during the Lewiston mass shooting response could lead to significant changes in how police business is done globally, he said.

During the meeting, Selectmen also approved two grants and several police department expenditures:

• A $3,368 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant towards a $3,745 expense for a ballistic shield.

• A $21,410 Homeland Security grant through Franklin County Emergency Management Agency to purchase a fingerprinting machine that is more efficient, less messy, is similar to what the jail uses, and Wilton police will also use.

• An expenditure of $8,502 from the Police Department Vehicle Reserve Account towards the $24,000 purchase of a used 2019 Ford Explorer Interceptor with 27,000 miles. The vehicle from Hight Ford in Skowhegan will replace one totaled earlier this year for which insurance paid $15,498.

• Reimbursement to Lewiston Police Department of $24,360 for training Farmington officer Ariana Bacon received at Maine Criminal Justice Academy while an officer in Lewiston.

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