AUGUSTA — A proposal to seek federal grant funding to cover 75 percent of the cost of adding a new police officer dedicated to youth drug abuse education and prevention goes to city councilors for discussion Thursday.

Last year city councilors approved, and the Police Department has since hired, two new detectives to combat drug dealing and drug-related crimes in the city.

Police Chief Robert Gregoire is seeking council permission to apply for federal Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, funding, to hire an entry level officer for three years to “continue our efforts in combating the opiate crisis facing our community,” he said in a memo to City Manager William Bridgeo.

The officer, if councilors approve and the grant application is successful, would be dedicated to an education program in city schools, and in recreation and other youth programs during the summer, aimed at reducing drug use and abuse.

Gregoire said Tuesday the position would help the city take a multi-pronged approach needed to combat drug abuse, adding education and prevention to the enforcement provided by the two drug detectives.

“There would be no shortage of work for this officer to do,” Gregoire said Tuesday. “They would provide educational programming to students, aimed at drug prevention.”


In February, for the second straight year, councilors set fighting what officials have called a growing opiate and heroin abuse epidemic as one of their major goals for the year.

Toward that goal, city police also have partnered with several area social service organizations to create a referral program, the Capitol Recovery Program, to help people addicted to drugs get treatment.

The federal funding would cover 75 percent of the cost of an entry level officer’s salary and benefits for three years. The city would be responsible for the other 25 percent.

Gregoire said the officer, if the grant is approved, would undergo nationally recognized training in drug prevention education.

Bridgeo said the city’s share of the cost of adding the officer, for the three years of the grant, probably would be about $12,000 to $15,000 a year. He said funding for that is not in his proposed budget, but he’d recommend councilors approve funding for it if the city gets the grant. He said he supports adding the position.

The position would be in addition to, and have a different role from, that of Carly Wiggin, school resource officer in Augusta’s schools. Her job includes building relationships with students and creating a safer environment in Augusta schools. Gregoire said Wiggin spends most of her time with middle and high school students at Cony, and not as much time in the city’s four elementary schools.


Councilors are scheduled to discuss the proposal to seek the federal grant funding at their meeting Thursday.

Councilors also are scheduled to continue their review of next year’s proposed budget.

That includes a discussion with school officials about the $29.6 million school budget approved by the school board in March.

The combined city and school budget is subject to approval by the City Council. In past years, councilors often have directed school officials to go back and cut money from the budget approved by the school board.

Councilors on Thursday also are scheduled to review budgets for the Police and Fire departments.

The 6 p.m. meeting is scheduled to take place in the council chamber at Augusta City Center, but councilors are scheduled to enter, at the start of the meeting, into a closed-door session to discuss a real estate matter. Bridgeo said the public portion of the meeting will resume as soon as the executive session ends.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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