SABATTUS — Voters at the annual town meeting Thursday approved a smaller Police Department budget recommended by the Budget Committee, which means hiring one new officer instead of three.

For Sabattus Police Chief Erik Baker, it was a partial win. He had hoped the town would approve $947,334 so he could hire three officers, allowing the promotion of officers to the ranks of detective and supervisor. The budget would also have allowed him to hire two new reserve officers. 

That, Baker argued, would allow the department to keep more officers on the street and have a more focused approach to serious issues in town. 

Instead, the town voted to approve $756,431 so one more officer can be hired. 

The department has six full-time officers — one works as the school school resource officer nine months of the year — and a reserve. Reserves are limited to 1,040 hours of patrol in a calendar year, or roughly 20 hours a week. 

On Friday, the chief said he was disappointed with the vote.


“I truly believe the town needs to be at nine full-time officers, one chief and a reserve program of 2,080 hours to be complete,” he said. “This is also backed up by the uniform crime reporting statistics.” 

The town has fewer police officers per resident than most cities and towns around New England. 

In Sabattus, there are 1.15 officers for every thousand residents. The national average is 2.4. In Maine specifically, the average works out to 1.74 officers per 1,000, while across New England, it’s 2.3. 

Baker, who became chief in 2022 and got the department nationally accredited earlier this year, said he will begin advertising for a new officer in July. 

“The Sabattus Police Department will still be working diligently to keep the community safe and doing the best it can with the number of officers it is budgeted for,” Baker said. ” We appreciate the communities support over the last year and will keep our promise to provide a great service.” 

Meanwhile, voters approved $386,582 for the Fire Department, which will allow hiring a new chief. 


Firefighter Robert Gayton has been running the department since May of last year on an interim basis. During his presentation to the voters, Gayton made several points as to why a full-time chief is needed. 

For one, he said, a full-time chief will be responding to the majority of calls during the daytime — the department is already at 316 calls for fire service for the year. 

He also said the chief will handle administrative tasks such as scheduling, payroll, budgeting, report management, training and seeking grants. 

A full-time chief, Gayton said, will also handle public education and fire prevention for the town and he or she will be responsible for community follow-up with residents. 

“We have found that many town residents are alone and in need of assistance in a multitude of areas,” Gayton said. “If we respond to an EMS call at their residence, and we see that need for assistance, I’d like to see the new fire chief dedicate some time to checking in on these residents in the days after our response. This is an item that truly matters. We are dedicated to serving the people. Going that extra mile makes all the difference with residents.” 

“The support for our budget last night was overwhelming,” Gayton said. “I am extremely proud to have grown up in this community. I’d like to thank all Sabattus residents for their candor and continued support. It’s been my pleasure to serve my hometown for 20 years.” 

In other business, voters approved $25,000 for a new excavator and $15,000 for police equipment, including tasers and body cameras. 

They also voted in favor of spending up to $2 million for road reconstruction and improvements, and to bond for $385,000 to replace a dam at the outlet of Sabattus Pond. The money would be used in conjunction with contributions from Greene and Wales. 

Well over 100 residents filling the gymnasium at Oak Hill Middle School for the meeting.

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