Wiscasset selectmen

Wiscasset police get statewide arrest authority

Board takes no action on school department’s energy project
Posted:  
Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - 7:45am
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Wiscasset selectmen return to five members. Tuesday was the board’s first meeting since the Jan. 31 special election. PHIL DI VECE/Wiscasset Newspaper

Wiscasset’s four full-time police officers were granted statewide arrest authority by selectmen Tuesday night.

Police Chief Jeffrey Lange requested the authorization. Before the change, police had to obtain a warrant to arrest someone outside Wiscasset.

In a letter to selectmen, Lange explained his request was in response to a recent mutual aid call involving a shooting in Waldoboro. A Wiscasset officer assisted the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office by providing emergency coverage for the county while deputies were at the scene.

In 1994, the Maine Legislature granted municipalities authority to expand police officers’ arrest authority. Selectmen voted 4-1 to approve Lange’s request. Selectman Larry Gordon cast the dissenting vote. He was concerned about liability, saying he preferred to give the matter more thought. Tuesday’s meeting was the board’s first since Gordon was elected Jan. 31.

Lange also outlined plans for a Public Safety Advisory Committee made up of nine community members including two high school students.  He explained the committee would give the community more input in the town’s police, fire and EMS departments by reviewing policy and offering suggestions.

“The committee will help us in determining where ... they want us to focus our efforts on now and in the future,” he said. The town office is accepting applications from residents interested in volunteering. Selectman Jeff Slack volunteered to screen the applications.

Following a 30-minute executive session with attorney Shana Mueller of Bernstein-Shur, Chairman Judy Colby said the board had discussed its options regarding the $1.7 million school energy project and decided no further action would be taken at this time. The School Committee recently reauthorized Superintendent of Schools Heather Wilmot to move forward with the project. Selectmen had at one point discussed holding a town vote.

The board elected David Cherry its new vice-chairman.

Donald Jones and Norma Gordon were appointed to the Appearance of the Town Committee. The vote was 4-1, Cherry dissenting. Cherry felt Jones needed to fill out an application. 

Selectmen approved a business license for Kathrynne Willhoite Photography on Gibbs Road.

The board will meet  Tuesday, Feb. 21 in the hearing room. At 8 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 25 selectmen will meet with the budget committee and department heads to begin work on the 2017-18 budget.

Selectmen ended the meeting by dedicating it to the memory of Ruth Kierstead, a former Wiscasset teacher who lived on Federal Street.  Kierstead died Feb. 12 at the age of 101.