Important conversations in Gouldsboro

Dear Editor:

I am the citizen who circulated the petition “Shall the town vote to disband the Gouldsboro Police Department and contract with the Hancock County Sherriff’s Office for Public Safety services?”

How I got into this was honestly the conversations I have heard around town about our police department and our town budget. I love my town and decided there has to be a conversation because if this is how the town really feels, then they have a right to vote.

Disbanding a police department is an important decision but it is not a new concept. Municipalities across the country are choosing to do this to take the financial pressures off, especially in small towns. We are surrounded by towns without their own police department and they are still standing.

Our police department is bigger than it has ever been and is continuing to grow in spite of the fact that our population stays the same, around 1,700 residents, and the median age is 50 years old. We are a small town and cannot support our ballooning budget. What ever happened to living within our means?

I feel we should all be law-abiding citizens. I also feel that the Police Department as well as the town office has an obligation to the residents and taxpayers. Is it necessary to be policed at 80-100 hours a week? Where are the statistics that support that amount of coverage? With the experience and historical data of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, they are better equipped to help us determine the right amount of coverage, to see what we need and when.

Another conversation in town is that our current police department is “proactive” to the point of being aggressive. The Gouldsboro I was born and raised in has proved over and over again that good people live here, that we look out for one another. It is this sense of community that draws people here, not our police department.

I gave a lot of thought to this petition and talked to a lot of my neighbors. The questions it brought out into the open are not misleading and it is not done with malice. Citizens of Gouldsboro, if you care about our town, please come to the public hearing, speak your mind, get the facts, and help decide what’s best for our town. And most of all, exercise your rights as a citizen and show up to vote!

Becky Irwin


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