ELLSWORTH — Two officers with more than 30 years of service each plan to retire from the Ellsworth Police Department in 2018.
Officer Bart Tokas intends to retire in May and Detective Dotty Small is prepared to retire in September. Both are well known in Ellsworth for their long careers in law enforcement as well as for their community involvement.
“Certainly, when you lose folks like those, it’s a challenge for an agency,” said Police Chief Glenn Moshier this week.
Small first worked for the department as a dispatcher starting in 1981. Both she and Tokas began serving as patrol officers in 1986 (Tokas had worked in Bar Harbor before that). Small became the department’s detective in March of 1999. Tokas was one of the department’s sergeants for a time.
Tokas has worked closely with Special Olympics, organizing the local leg of the annual Torch Run and coordinating the “Tip A Cop” fundraiser. He also has done work for suicide awareness. Small has served as a DARE officer in city schools, is well known for her knitting and also has worked closely with the department’s Project HOPE initiative for those battling opiate addictions.
Moshier called Small and Tokas “longstanding officers and outstanding community members.”
“When people think of the Ellsworth Police Department, very often they think of Dotty, Gil or Bart,” he said, referring also to Officer Gil Jameson, who retired earlier this year after 39 years of service.
While seeing such veteran officers depart represents a loss of institutional knowledge and well-established relationships with community members, Moshier said it also is an exciting chance to bring in new blood and fresh faces who are starting careers of their own.
“We look forward to the opportunity to hire new folks and train them and bring them on board,” he said. “We look forward to the excitement that they bring and their eagerness to be out there and serve the public.”
The department recently welcomed Officer Jeff Hall, who graduated from the 18-week basic law enforcement training course at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy on Dec. 15. Hall, who will fill the vacancy created by Jameson’s retirement, is now set to do 12 to 16 weeks of field training with the Ellsworth department. He will work with Officer Shawn Merchant before patrolling on his own.
At the Dec. 18 City Council meeting, Moshier got permission from councilors to jump-start the process of hiring a new officer to fill the vacancy that will be created by Tokas’s departure. By hiring an officer now — Moshier said he hopes to make an announcement after Jan. 1 — that person could then enroll in the training session at the Criminal Justice Academy that starts in January.
That means the officer would graduate from the academy in May, and after completing local training in Ellsworth be able to serve on his or her own starting in August. Moshier said that approach will cut down on overtime costs that would be incurred if the department waited until May to begin the process of hiring a new officer.
Moshier estimated the savings to be somewhere in the range of $32,500, and his proposal drew strong support from councilors at the Dec. 18 meeting.
“I think it’s a great move,” said Councilor Gary Fortier.
“I agree,” said Council Chairman Marc Blanchette.
The department would address the vacancy to be created by Small’s departure at a later date, Moshier said. He would like to be able to promote someone from within the department to fill the vacant detective’s post when the time comes. If that happens, then the department would need to hire a new officer to fill the vacancy created by that promotion.