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Madawaska police set to hire new officer with federal grant

MADAWASKA, Maine — The Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Program recently awarded the Madawaska Police Department $125,000, which will help the department cover the costs of hiring a full-time officer.

The department is one of three in the state to receive COPS grants in this latest round of funding, totaling $500,000, according to a press release from U.S. Attorney for the District of Maine Halsey B. Frank.

“This will allow us to strengthen our community policing projects,” Police Chief Ross Dubois said Monday.

The department regularly gives presentations about public safety and police/community relations at schools and other civic organizations.

“Having another officer gives us flexibility when it comes to scheduling. That includes our regular safety patrols and these special community projects,” the chief said.

Dubois said the grant will increase his full-time staff from six to seven officers, including himself.

“It will also cut down on the amount of overtime,” Dubois said, adding that having an additional officer makes planning coverage for trainings, vacations and sick days easier.

The COPS Hiring Program provides grant funding directly to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to support hiring additional law enforcement officers for three years to address specific crime problems through community policing strategies, according to the program’s website.

The COPS grant will cover 75 percent of the new officer’s wages and benefits in the first year, according Dubois. In the second year, that amount drops to 50 percent, and in the third year to 25 percent.

As part of the grant, the town must agree to retain the new officer for a fourth year at its own expense.

The department hopes to hire a new officer with the COPS funding later this winter, Dubois said. Madawaska’s newest police officer, Garrett Albert, originally from Fort Kent, started on Sunday.

The Maine grants were part of $98,495,397 in grants announced Nov. 20 by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions that were awarded to 179 law enforcement agencies across the nation.

Other departments in Maine receiving awards this year included the Somerset County Sheriff’s Department ($250,000 for two officers), and the Jay Police Department ($125,000 for one officer).  

The grants will allow more than 800 additional full-time law enforcement officers to be hired around the country, according to the release.

Madawaska’s COPS grant application was awarded extra points because the department certified its willingness to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, according to Dubois.

“Which we were already doing,” he added.

Federal officials may sometimes ask local police to provide access to detention facilities for an interview of aliens in the jurisdiction’s custody.

“Cities and states that cooperate with federal law enforcement make all of us safer by helping remove dangerous criminals from our communities,” Sessions said in the release.

According to the release, 143 of the 179 awarded agencies received additional points based on their certifications of willingness to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

Dubois said his department also was awarded extra points because it pledged to make efforts to hire qualified applicants who had prior military service.

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