ELLSWORTH — The Hancock County Sheriff’s Office has gotten a green light to hire an additional deputy in the wake of a Maine State Police announcement that the agency would reduce its participation in a local call-sharing agreement.
The Hancock County Budget Advisory Committee at its Oct. 9 meeting voted unanimously to add $52,000 to Sheriff Scott Kane’s 2020 budget for an additional officer.
Since the late 1990s, the sheriff’s offices in Hancock and Washington counties and the state police have taken turns responding to 911 calls in various parts of each county.
Each of Maine’s 16 counties has some type of arrangement for shared law enforcement coverage but many of those agreements have changed over time, according to Maine State Police Col. John E. Cote. However, the agreement locally is still what it was in the 1990s.
Earlier this fall, the state police advised the sheriff that the current agreement would end this year.
A new agreement, which proposes that the state police reduce the number of shifts they cover, would take effect Jan. 1, 2020.
Kane told Budget Advisory Committee members that he refuses to sign the proposed agreement and he’s sent the state police his own proposal but hasn’t heard back.
Commissioner Bill Clark, who was Hancock County sheriff for 34 years and helped develop the original call-sharing agreement, told the committee that the commissioners share Kane’s “frustration.”
“For the state police to pull out after 28 years and after us being the pilot program is infuriating to me,” Clark said.
Budget Advisory Committee member and Bucksport Town Councilor Paul Bissonnette said, “I think we’ve got to send a message to Augusta that we just can’t pass this on to our taxpayers in Hancock County.”
The sheriff said he and Chief Deputy Pat Kane are scheduled to meet with the state police on Nov. 15 about the matter.
“Hopefully we’ll have something hashed out a week from Friday,” Kane said.