St. John Valley

FKPD seeks grant funding for garage to increase public safety

FORT KENT, Maine — In an effort to improve public safety, the Fort Kent Police Department is seeking federal funding to build a garage to be attached to the station.

The estimated cost of the roughly 40-by-46-foot garage will be $435,000.

Fort Kent Police Department is seeking funding for the project through U.S. Sen. Susan Collins via a Congressional Directed Spending under Economic Development Initiatives Community Development Fund for fiscal year 2023.

“The police department garage project will provide additional safety to our officers, dispatchers and the citizens of Fort Kent when transporting prisoners and keeping our cruisers out from the winter elements,” Fort Kent town manager Suzie Paradis said. “We are one of few municipalities in the state without a garage for our cruisers.”

Currently, people taken into custody at the station must be escorted through the main lobby of the department, a narrow entryway that serves as a reception area for members of the public.  

The FKPD is a place where residents conduct business such as purchasing hunting and fishing licenses, registering dogs or filing criminal complaints.

The two-bay garage, if built, would attach to the south side of the station and provide a port to allow for transfer of prisoners from patrol vehicles to the station’s booking room without crossing paths with members of the public.  

The port will also make things safer for officers if people in custody become agitated or combative while being brought into the station.

“With the current rise in the drug epidemic and mental health crisis, things can turn really quickly; safety is the top measure here,” Fort Kent Police Chief Michael DeLena said. 

Law enforcement personnel with the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office and Maine State Police patrolling the area also bring people in custody to the Fort Kent station for booking, to conduct interviews or administer intoxilyzer tests.

The garage would also prove a cost savings measure to the department. All patrol vehicles are parked outside at the station and in the winter months this can present a challenge. 

The vehicles must run idle to keep them from icing up so they are available for use at any moment and officers must spend time on the clock clearing snow from the vehicles. 

The rising cost of gas and wear and tear on the vehicles due to exposure to the elements and idling for long periods of time adds to the department’s expenditures, Fort Kent community relations officer Cindy Bouley said.

The garage would also contain a new evidence locker.

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