Clinton Voters Hold Police Department’s Fate In Their Hands
With three contentious public hearings in the books the decision whether or not to get rid of the police department in Clinton now lies with the voters.The department currently has two full time officers, that includes the Chief Craig Johnson. He says they also have six part time reserve officers and an operating budget of just under $200,000 a year to serve Clinton’s 3,486 residents.”We handled just over 3000 calls,” Johnson said, speaking of the 2012 statistics. “Various calls. Burglaries, thefts, domestics, citizen assist calls.”If the police department is cut those calls would be handled by the Kennebec County Sheriffs Department and the Maine State Police. Sheriff Randall Liberty has warned that could mean long delays in responding to some calls.A new pharmacy is set to open on Main Street in Clinton which adds to the public safety concerns of Town Manager Warren Hatch. Maine had an all-time high in pharmacy robberies last year.The budget has twice been rejected but Hatch said a lot of people showed up to those meetings to support the police department.”The people in the meetings say they want the police department, they need the police department,” Hatch said Friday. “Some people have even mentioned they would be afraid if we don’t have a police department because they come from a community where there was none and there was no protection whatsoever.”The situation is also making things difficult at times for officers on duty.”I did have an officer come to me a couple a weeks before the vote and apparently the operator he had stopped told him ‘if you give me a ticket I’ll vote against you and I’ll get my family and friends to vote against you,’” Johnson said.The next vote is set for August 13. If that fails the selectboard will decide when the matter will taken up again. If voters continue to vote down the budget Clinton could be without its police department by July 1 of next year.