Wiscasset Public Safety Advisory Council

Lange talks personnel changes

Wonders if second SRO needed in 2018-19
Posted:  Wednesday, October 25, 2017 - 9:00am

Police Chief Jeff Lange told the Wiscasset Public Safety Advisory Council Tuesday, there have been some changes to personnel in the department owing to a change in the required number of hours for reserve officers. “I require a minimum of eight hours,” Lange said. “Some officers had not logged any hours since April.”

Those officers left, and new personnel are being hired. Lange said he recently hired a new officer, Emily Christiansen, and is interviewing a soldier who is being discharged from the Army in January and is looking for full-time police work. In addition, the school resource officer position is still being filled by Sgt. Craig Worster, but Lange would like to find a full-time officer to replace Worster, who is doing double duty.

The department will be helping with the Halloween festivities next Tuesday, monitoring the closed roads for the parade and block party on Federal Street and offering candy through the trunk or treat portion of the event, Lange said.

Lange is hoping to meet with Superintendent of Schools Heather Wilmot to get more information about the special needs program Wiscaset Middle High School will host beginning in the 2018-2019 school year. Lange is concerned that the program’s students involved, who have behavioral challenges, will not be kept separate from the other students and that a second SRO may be needed. Wilmot has said there are no plans for one.

“We need more information,” Lange said. For this program and other purposes, he would like his officers to take advantage of crisis intervention training put on by the National Alliance on Mental Illness. He said the training was scheduled, then canceled because there weren’t enough officers from other departments who signed up.

The department received a grant for rifle scopes. The rifles were donated by Maine Yankee. The officers will qualify on these and handguns on Nov. 1.

Lange was the only department head at Tuesday’s meeting. Toby Martin of Wiscasset Ambulance Service was recovering from emergency surgery, and Fire Chief T.J. Merry sent an email that indicated he could not attend, Chair Holly Giles said.

Lange discussed the difference between the budget committee’s view of budget cuts and the select board’s view. “The budget committee wants to see an increase in revenue,” he said. “Right now I am thinking parking enforcement in the new MDOT lots.” Lange said existing parking would not be metered, but he believes the new lots should be. “It wouldn’t be a lot of money. But it would be something.” He said the harbormaster’s shack at the waterfront will sell items to visiting boaters. “Soda, ice, candy, t-shirts,” he said. “Something that says Wiscasset on it.”

Without the other two chiefs, there was not a lot of discussion about how the departments could work together, but Lange said he agreed with Martin on cross-training. “Some police departments in the state cross-train with EMS, and some members are even EMT-certified. What would have to happen is some provision in the contract ... being negotiated for extra pay for EMT work.” The current contract has no provision for additional pay, he said.

The ghost moorings in the harbor and a boat for the harbor master were also topics. The town had decided to run another ad to find any owners who wanted to retrieve their mooring buoy and chain, but no records were kept historically. Lange said he is looking for a boat for Harbor Master Levon Travis by multiple means – looking through lists of surplus federal property, applying for a Homeland Security grant when it becomes available for harbor security, or seeking a donation from a local resident who may not be using his or her boat anymore. There’s also a little money left from when the prior boat was sold a year ago.

“I don’t see any reason why a boat donation wouldn’t qualify for a tax deduction,” he said in response to a question from the council. He was not sure what size or what kind the harbormaster might need. “Something with a center console. Beyond that, we’d have to ask the harbormaster.”