‘Yes’ vote means no Paris Police Department

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PARIS —  As voters head to the polls on Tuesday, June 14, they will decide the future of policing in town, voting to contract police services with the Oxford County Sheriff’s Department, or not.

Voting will take place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Paris Fire Station at 137 Western Ave.

The referendum question asks voters “to see if the town will vote to terminate the Paris Police Department and enter into an agreement with the Oxford County Sheriff’s Department for law enforcement services, effective on or before January 1, 2017.”

A “yes” vote means “yes” to contract with the county Sheriff and to terminate Paris Police Department.

A “no” vote means residents will keep the Paris Police Department.

According to Interim Town Manager Sawin Millett, the question is worded as an affirmative vote to contract with the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office.

So in simpler terms vote “yes” you want the Sheriff’s contract or “no” you do not want the Sheriff’s contract

As part the effort to reduce the budget by $500,000 after many in town called for tax relief last year, selectmen decided to see if residents would get rid of its Police Department and contract with the Sheriff’s Office.

For fiscal 2017, the Paris Police Department budget is $514,131. It allows for the continuance of 24-7 patrol coverage in town and keeps seven full-time employees and five part-time employees. They include one chief, one detective sergeant, four full-time patrol officers, five part-time patrol officers and one administrative assistant. It reduces the police force by one position – the school resource officer at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School – which Interim Police Chief Hartley “Skip” Mowatt recently said he hopes to reinstate next school year if voters choose to stay with Paris Police.

The proposed and revamped Police Department budget – which includes an increase over what was originally proposed because of recently added retirement contributions – represents a $91,000 cut from the current budget.

Oxford County Sheriff Wayne Gallant’s most recent proposal for law enforcement coverage for Paris is roughly $363,064 for the first year and $324,500 for the second. It includes three full-time deputies, detective services to be split between five full-time detectives and cruisers. It would provide 24/7 coverage and leave a six-hour patrol gap where coverage would be on an on-call basis. This means dispatch would have to call an off-duty, on-call deputy at home to send to the scene.

If voters decide to disband the Paris Police Department, they will have to pay roughly $41,958 for unemployment and vacation payouts for seven employees in addition to the sheriff’s contract.

Regardless of how the vote turns out, residents will again take up policing in Paris at annual town meeting – either through the Paris Police Department or Oxford County Sheriff’s Office. Town meeting action gets underway at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 18, at the Paris Fire Station.

Referendum question

“Yes” – contract with the Oxford County Sheriff

“No” – do not contract with the Oxford County Sheriff

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