WINSLOW — A $125,000 federal grant that will help the police department hire another patrol officer for the next three years can’t be accepted until the town agrees to pitch in more money.

Adding more manpower to the force has been a goal of Chief Shawn O’Leary, but the town has to provide $82,000 in shared costs over the life of the U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services grant.

The town council is expected to discuss the grant at its meeting Tuesday.

The award would fund 75 percent of a patrol officer position, according to Town Manager Michael Heavener’s monthly report to the Town Council.

In order to get the money, the town would need to spend $82,215 over the next four years, Heavener said. The COPS grant provides funding for the first three years of the position, but program rules require the town to retain the officer for at least one year after the award expires.

In his report, Heavener said that reserve officer funding could be used to cover the cost of the officer for the first two years, but in 2018, the position would require a budget increase of approximately $56,442, then another increase of slightly more than $5,300 in 2019.


In the same year of the first budget increase the town will have retired almost $340,000 in debt repayments, Heavener added.

O’Leary took over the reins of the department in April 2014. In his budget proposal this year, he asked for additional manpower, citing increasing call volume and the number of potentially violent situations officers have to respond to. O’Leary was out of the office Monday and could not be reached for comment.

The town employs nine full-time officers, including the chief, a detective and a school resource officer, which are not patrol positions.

In his budget request, O’Leary said that Winslow has an equivalent or larger population than Fairfield, Oakland and Gardiner, but has a smaller police force. His request for $131,000 to hire two full-time officers was turned down by the council, but it approved $83,000 for a new supervisor and funding for reserve officers.

With the additional funding, the police department’s budget went up to $754,250, a 13 percent increase over last year. But because of a change in funding for the resource officer for Winslow Schools, the department is still understaffed, O’Leary said in his COPS grant application. Before this budget year, 66 percent of the school officer position was funded by the town, which meant the officer would frequently be pulled out of school to deal with issues in town. Starting this year 75 percent of the officer’s cost will be paid by the schools. That means the officer will work in the schools full-time, leaving the department down an officer, O’Leary said in the application.

“The department has reached and likely passed the point of personnel effectiveness,” O’Leary wrote in the application. “At this stage in the department’s evolution, we are in need of additional staffing resources just to maintain minimal operational standards,” he said.


According to the application, the new patrol officer would take a 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. shift from Wednesday to Saturday, giving the department a supervisor and two patrol officers in town during a time period that is “predominantly our busiest during the week.”

Winslow is one of five Maine communities that are sharing $625,000 from the COPS program. Other recipients are the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, and the Fort Kent, Norway and Old Town police departments. According to the COPS program website, Winslow’s grant application scored second highest after Fort Kent.

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire

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