GOULDSBORO — Selectmen Feb. 11 or soon after will take up a request to add a third full-time police officer in town.
Gouldsboro currently has two full-time police officers, Police Chief Paul Gamble and Tyler Dunbar, and one part-time reserve officer, Kenneth Schuurman.
The town budgeted for three part-time reserve officers, but Gamble said he is having trouble filling those positions due to more stringent training requirements.
The state mandates that reserve officers complete 40 hours of online schooling, 80 hours of scenario-based training at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy and 80 hours of supervised training.
Candidates also must submit to a background investigation, pass a state examination, pass a physical fitness test and undergo a physical examination.
“Since 2010, the state of Maine has made it harder and harder for an individual to become a reserve officer,” Gamble told selectmen at a meeting Jan. 28. “Therefore, the smaller departments are having a harder time finding quality reserves to fill the coverage.”
He said part-time reserve officers are not allowed to handle accidents that involve a personal injury, unattended deaths, attempted suicides or pursuits.
Instead, Gamble is proposing a third full-time police officer at a cost of $67,507 with wages and benefits. He also is proposing two part-time positions at a combined cost of $15,000.
Gamble told selectmen that Schuurman would be a good candidate as a full-time officer.
Schuurman has been a reserve officer since 1995 and has completed the equivalent of Maine Criminal Justice Academy training — a $30,000 cost savings to the town, Gamble said.
He said adding a full-time officer would make the department more professional, provide more shift coverage, reduce the likelihood of burnout and aid in investigations.
Police officers may ask for backup from Winter Harbor Police, but their availability is limited because of their hours, Gamble said.
State police and Hancock County deputy sheriffs also can be called on to assist, but “there is no way of knowing where they are and how long before backup arrives,” Gamble said.
“Officer safety is a major concern because of our geography,” he said.
Gamble said demands for police involvement are increasing.
This year will mark the first full season of the Schoodic Woods Campground in Winter Harbor.
“The park rangers have already tasked the Gouldsboro Police Department along with the Winter Harbor Police Department to help out in looking for lost and or injured hikers,” Gamble said.
Also, Gamble said, crime is on the rise yet there is not enough time for police to fully pursue investigations.
In 2014, Gouldsboro Police responded to 18 thefts and nine burglaries. In 2015, there were 30 thefts reported and eight burglaries.
Gamble said the department fielded more than 800 calls for service in 2015, not including traffic stops.