Lincoln County Sheriff Todd Brackett and Communications Director Tod Hartung, at the commissioners’ request, parsed out the reason for the increase in calls for service to the county-wide 9-1-1 lines.
All had suspected that the addition of animal control officers might be a part of the reason for the jump. The number of calls for service between January 1 and March 15, 2015 and the same period in 2016 had increased by 2,019.
There were additional calls regarding animal control issues, but it turns out the vast number are property check requests. A property check request is a request by a business or a resident to have a deputy check a particular property, check the doors, and check for suspicious activity. It is not a service that the businesses or residents pay extra for, and Brackett said that it’s becoming an increasing burden.
“We are powerless to change it as a county,” he said at the March 15 commissioners meeting. “We would have to go to the individual towns and get the towns to impose a fee for the service.” Brackett didn’t think that was very likely. “It’s not an easy fix. It’s really a time drain, time when officers could be doing other things.” Brackett said that any change would probably require the presence of the commissioners at the town meetings to encourage the towns to impose a fee on residents and businesses who are requesting the service.
Another problem, he said, were burglar alarms. Typically, a company is responsible to check on the burglar alarms, but sometimes the company is some distance away, and calls the Sheriff’s Department or the police departments instead. “There are some places where the alarm goes off at the drop of a hat, almost every day,” he said. When the Sheriff’s Department knows it’s a false alarm caused by the wind or some other factor, it becomes a low priority, but eventually, someone has to go and check it out. “Luckily, we have responsible people in some areas that go and check them out, such as property managers. They save us a lot of work.”
The Sheriff’s Department also reviewed bids for new vehicles. They will need five new vehicles this year, one with a hitch. They took the bid from Quirk Ford for Ford Interceptors, at $26,716 each, choosing the SUV crossover vehicles because the resale value was higher.
With the retirement of County Administrator John O’Connell and the elevation of Finance Director Carrie Kipfer to his vacant position, it was necessary to hire a new Finance Director. Kipfer announced that the county had selected Michelle Cearbaugh of Phippsburg. Cearbaugh is currently Sagadahoc County Accounting Manager, and will slowly transition into the new position.