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Police officer hired to fill vacancy
RUMFORD -- Following some debate, selectmen Thursday agreed with a recommendation from the police chief to fill one of the two vacancies in the police department.
By a vote of 3-1, the board approved appointing David M. Hodgson as a police officer. He currently serves that capacity in Dixfield.
Police Chief Stacy Carter said he is hopeful that by hiring locally (Hodgson lives in Dixfield), they'll be able to curb of not being able to retain police officers in the department. "I hope to bring forward another candidate next month. We're still reviewing candidates for the utility position, whose purpose is to save on overtime."
The department has been short since Cpl. Matt Noyes returned from military service in Afghanistan and left to become an Oxford County Sheriff's Deputy. Additionally, officer Ian Theriault left to become a Scarborough police officer and Sgt. David Bean retired in November after a 25-year career.
Selectman Mark Belanger, who voted against the measure, noted, "These are the times (when there's a vacancy) when there are opportunities to restructure. We never seem to take advantage of that."
Selectman Jeremy Volkernick voted for the appointment, but after noting that several weeks ago that the board turned down a request to fill a utility firefighter post that, "It would be nice to treat each department fair and equally."
Resident Candace Casey asked the board not to rush into making a decision to fill the position. She had earlier submitted a proposal to restructure the department and said the town should also consider the option of having the Sheriff's Office provide law enforcement coverage.
Carter said that despite a drop in the town population, the call volumn has remained steady. "We're a service center community. People come here for pleasure."
Selectman Jeff Sterling said, "Taking an officer off the street doesn't make it any safer. I don't think this is the time to cut."
Carter said two years ago, the department cut out two officers from the department and it didn't affect the mil rate. "But it does affect the way we provide service."
As a result of this appointment, Town Manager Carlo Puiia said Rumford will have to compensate the Dixfield Police Department for paying for Hodgson's training at the police academy.
However, he said the result of the compensation will be "a wash" because Rumford is being compensated by the Scarborough Police Department for police academy training after that department hired away Patrolman Theriault.
Hodgson will begin his duties with Rumford sometime in February.