Money could have been better utilized
To the Editor:
I'm writing this letter in response to the new domestic violence signs that will be posted on the roads leading to Rumford. I respect law enforcement and am fascinated with forensic science but I do not respect those who abuse their power and take advantage of people and causes for political gain.
I used to be on the Rumford Finance Committee. I started volunteering on the committee in 2007. I did my usual research before budget season began and learned that our police department is overstaffed compared to other towns in Maine with comparable populations. That particular year we had at least two openings in the department. After presenting my data to the other finance committee members, I implored them to cut the two vacant positions. Both the committee and the citizenry voted to eliminate those two positions and we went from a fulltime force of 14 to 12.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, we had less than 6,500 people. According to the FBI Crime Index, we had very little violent crimes reported by the Rumford Police Department (RPD). This is how I became known by the permanent fixtures who still work for the RPD.
I am a taxpaying citizen of Rumford and very patriotic. In 2010, I called the RPD to assist me with my husband, who had been diagnosed with combat PTSD. He spent a significant amount of time overseas witnessing things that you and I would never dream of. His family, friends, and military peers respect him greatly for his service to this country. We also support him in his recovery from these traumatic events. I naturally expected that the RPD would understand the difference between domestic violence and PTSD. I assumed that they would understand his predicament and have some empathy for him. Four months earlier, the RPD took a call from someone out-of-state alledging my husband was abusing me. They arrived at my house and arrested my husband for domestic violence on the word of a person from Tennessee who was intentionally trying to discredit him in a legal setting.
I called them because I needed some assistance coaching someone with combat PTSD. They showed up at my house and talked to four people before they spoke with me, one of those people was my mother. By the time they got to me, I was automatically treated like a suspect. I was not asked what happened or why I called, I was instead accused of a crime and served with a summons for furnishing a home for a minor to consume, a felony. One of the police officers informed me that he smelled alcohol on the breath of one of the four people interviewed. So the focus immediately went from me asking for assistance to me being a supposed felon.
Two days later, there was an article in the newspaper about me. The article emphasized that I was a Finance Committee member who was also a supposed felon serving alcohol to minors. The Finance Committee was scheduled to meet the following week. My reputation was tarnished along with that of my husband's. They were successful at discrediting me in front of my peers and the community. I was very dedicated to my position on the Finance Committee. I advocated on behalf of the taxpayers of Rumford and tried to lower the budget to the best of my ability in an effort to reduce taxes. This felony charge and the ensuing newspaper article jeopardized all that I had worked so hard for. I have a master's degree in Public Policy & Management. This incident affected me mentally, socially, and financially. It disheartened us greatly to learn that we cannot count on the RPD to protect us.
My husband's case was dropped by the DA as well as mine. This information did not make the papers. In the future, I will refrain from calling the supposed public servants in Rumford. If I actually was a victim of domestic violence, I would have no where to turn. If I did need their help, why would I want to take the risk of getting charged with a manufactured crime?
The saddest part is that we pay high taxes for an overstaffed police force who isn't there for us.
Our governor was a victim of domestic violence so he is making it his priority while in office, and I commend him for that. In my opinion, the RPD is using the plight of domestic violence victims for political gain. I think the money approved for the signs could have been better utilized for training our police department how to treat all citizens who reach out to them with respect and dignity.