Law and order and Gouldsboro

“A policeman’s life is not a pleasant one.”

That was Gilbert and Sullivan’s assertion in “The Pirates of Penzance” (1879). And though the words are from a bygone age, they remain relevant in the modern era. Take Gouldsboro, for example.

Gouldsboro voters decide next month whether they want to disband the town Police Department. The vote is June 11 (we gave the wrong date in last week’s paper).

Petitioners asking for a vote on the question want to know if townspeople would favor dissolving the cop shop and contracting with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office for coverage. Fair enough: not a bad idea to shop around.

At an April 29 hearing on the question, Gouldsboro Police Chief Tyler Dunbar said, in answer to a question, that the town Police Department’s 2018-19 budget was $207,000. That sum pays for 100 hours of coverage per week by two full-time officers and one part-timer.

Sheriff Scott Kane, who was present at the hearing, told the 150 residents on hand that a contracted sheriff’s deputy would cost the town $40.88 an hour or $89,289 per year for a 40-hour week. Throw in a police car and the rate goes up to $61.50 an hour or $134,316 a year for 40 hours a week. Not 100 hours, but 40.

Although a resident rightly noted that Gouldsboro’s current police budget is one of the largest line items on the town warrant, some of those at the hearing detected an agenda that was not just dollars and cents.

One resident remarked after listening to the discussion that it appeared the beef was not with funding and maintaining a local department, but with the quality of the police chief’s work.

Another resident posited the theory that Chief Dunbar might have made arrests that cost him popularity points. “It’s not budget … it’s personal,” the gentleman concluded.

Voters will have to reach their own conclusions. It falls to the voters of Gouldsboro to be clear on what they’re voting for … or against.

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