WATERVILLE — Mayor Karen Heck proposes the city hire another police officer and buy another cruiser to help police deal with a heavy workload that includes an increasing number of pharmacy robberies.

“You look at what’s happening,” Heck said Tuesday at a budget workshop. “We’re going to start seeing much more crime, if you ask me.”

Heck asked City Manager Michael Roy to add an officer and cruiser to the proposed 2012-13 municipal budget.

“It’s just a disaster waiting to happen,” she said. “We had three broken windows on Main Street. That’s bad for business. That’s not anything we want to see.”

Heck proposed the extra officer and cruiser following discussions with councilors, Roy and some department heads about Waterville’s role as a service center, which provides emergency and social services to a many nonresidents. The city’s population of about 16,000 increases to about 35,000 during the day.

Police Chief Joseph Massey said that 60 to 65 percent of people arrested in the city are from out of town, a figure Heck used as evidence the city needs more police coverage.

“I just think if people call the police and they don’t show up, we’re going to start hearing about it,” she said. “I want it on the (proposed budget) list.”

Massey said as many as four officers and a sergeant or as few as two officers and a sergeant can be on a shift, and having another officer would provide an extra officer when needed.

Heck also said she thinks the city should start tallying what it costs the city when police or firefighters respond to calls at non-taxed entities such as colleges and hospitals.

“I would like to know what it’s costing us,” she said.

During a discussion about the proposed health and welfare budget, city officials said many people come to Waterville because of the availability of social and mental health services. Health and Welfare Director Linda Fossa said two or three nonresidents a month come to her office for help.

“We rarely see people coming from out of state,” Fossa said, adding that her office sees a lot of people who are discharged from jail, have no resources and can choose where they want to live.

The city gives to only two outside agencies, Kennebec Valley Community Action Program, for it’s van service, and Kennebec Behavioral Health, for mental health services. KVCAP is requesting $6,100 in the 2012-13 budget; Kennebec Behavioral Health, $10,000.

James Wood, KVCAP’s transportation director, said many riders are on general assistance and do not have personal transportation; they also need rides to find work and then to go to work.

Thomas McAdam, chief executive officer of Kennebec Behavioral Health, said last year his agency provided services for 1,844 Waterville residents.

McAdam said many people who come to the agency for help have no permanent housing. The first thing they must get is housing, and then services. Then they are able to get help finding a job, he said.

“Poverty, homelessness and mental illness are inextricably linked and when people experience all three, it’s tough for them to get back on their feet,” McAdam said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.