Wilton Chief of Police Ethan Kyes, right, explains to the Select Board the need for another police officer on Tuesday, Nov. 21. Also pictured is Selectperson Keith Swett. Brian Ponce/Franklin Journal

WILTON — The Wilton Board of Selectpersons voted to accept a $125,000 annual grant from the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services [COPS Office] on Tuesday, Nov. 21. The intention of the grant is to add additional police officers in the town of Wilton.

Congressman Jared Golden announced in early November that Maine’s 2nd Congressional District received over $1,200,000 in federal grant funding from the COPS Office to hire more law enforcement in rural counties and districts.

“These grants from the COPS Office will help address urgent officer shortages across the state, improve response times during emergencies, and put a special emphasis on preventing violence in schools before it happens,” Golden stated in a press release. “I’ve strongly advocated for greater investment in rural public safety, and am glad this funding is going directly to the communities who know how to use it best.”

Wilton Chief of Police Ethan Kyes mentioned to the Select Board that the department had been awarded the grant at their previous meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 7, and they had 45 days to accept the grant, with the deadline set for Friday, Dec. 15.

At the previous meeting, former Town Manager Perry Ellsworth elected not to have the Select Board accept the grant at that meeting until he and his successor, Maria Greeley, sat down to discuss how to proceed with the grant. His reservations stemmed from the fact that Wilton recently lost an officer, who returned to his position at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office [FCSO], and it is Kyes’ intent to fill the vacant position and add an additional officer to the roster.

At the meeting, Kyes clarified how the grant would function, stating it was a five year grant, but would only fund 36 months of the officer’s salary. According to Kyes, once the 36 months is complete, Wilton is responsible for only 12 months of the officer’s salary. After the 12 months, the department will have the option to reapply for the grant.


Kyes went on to provide statistics to reinforce the need for the grant, stating that since the COVID-19 pandemic the department has seen sharp increases in violent crime, petty crime and motor vehicle incidents.

In his report to the board, Kyes stated that Wilton has more cases of drug trafficking, aggravated assault, and domestic violence when compared to Farmington and Jay. Kyes also reported at the last meeting that the Wilton Police Department had a 55% clearance rate of cases in 2022, meaning it solved more than half of the active cases that year.

Kyes told the board that he had reached out to the sheriff’s office to ask for help in covering three open shifts for the department in December. Kyes reported that the sheriff’s office was not able to fill those shifts, leaving Kyes to cover the shifts himself.

“I was pretty disappointed with it,” Kyes shared. “They have a $2.1 million dollar budget. They’re currently 15 deputies and they can’t help us out with three shifts.”

Sheriff Scott Nichols was not available for comment, but told the Livermore Falls Advertiser previously that the department is more than willing to help and provide coverage for other precincts that are in need.

“What I’m trying to say with this is we need to take care of our own,” Kyes stated. “We don’t rely on other police departments because that’s kind of the response we get.”

Selectperson David Leavitt addressed this comment and told Kyes he should continue with his efforts to reach the county when he needs assistance.

“I think you still need to continue to email and request the county for support and let them reject,” Leavitt stated. “I think the voters need to understand even though we’re paying a good percentage of the county sheriff’s budget, they do nothing for us, and it needs to be publicly acknowledged.”

Selectperson Keith Swett asked if any money was set aside in the grant to cover the cost of gear and other expenditures. Kyes stated the grant does not cover those costs, but he had increased the budget for next year to account for additional gear should they hire another officer.

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