Another officer resigns from Waldoboro police force
Waldoboro — A third police officer has tendered his resignation in light of the uncertainty of the Waldoboro Police Department's financial future.
Officer Tom Hoepner presented a letter of resignation Nov. 22 to Chief William Labombarde.
"I decided to seek other options because of the uncertainty of the Waldoboro Police Department's future and the job security for its police officers," Hoepner stated in his resignation letter.
Hoepner is the School Resource Officer for Regional School Unit 40 between Medomak Middle School and Medomak Valley High School.
His resignation is the third since the board of selectmen attempted to slash — by a 3-2 vote — the police department's budget by $110,000 to make up for the state revenue sharing shortfall. That figure was reduced to $60,000 after failing at the polls in September and gaining approval for the new figure at a special town meeting in November.
Two officers who left earlier for other jobs were Detective Jason Benefield and Officer Jeremy Joslyn. Those vacancies allowed Labombarde to reinstate Officer John Lash who had been laid off in August as a preliminary round of cuts was foreseen.
"I don't have anyone to take back once Tom leaves," said Labombarde Dec. 4, adding "I am looking for an officer to specifically fill this position."
Hoepner was hired as a patrolman in August 2008 prior to being named to the SRO position. This was his sixth year of being SRO for RSU 40. He has nationally recognized training in his position. Having the same level of training, Labombarde will fill the vacancy part-time himself until the right person is chosen.
"I won't put just anybody there," said Labombarde. He explained the SRO serves as a host of many different things, not just as a legal representative.
"They are a teacher and mentor as well to the more than 1,000 students and staff on that campus," said Labombarde.
Labombarde was SRO in North Berwick for Noble High School prior to coming to Waldoboro. Hoepner served as SRO in Damariscotta and Lincoln Academy as well.
According to both Labombarde and Hoepner, the school resource officer position is the most secure with all the budgetary conflicts.
"They [the selectmen] don't get it that the five towns in the RSU 40 district pay for the position 180 days of the year," said Labombarde.
'The SRO is a very important position on our campus," said Medomak Valley High School Principal Harold Wilson.
Wilson said he has appreciated all the service that Hoepner has provided. He added it has been convenient if any issues arise.
"Tom has done a good job," said Wilson.
Wilson said as SRO, Hoepner would conduct segments in health class on substance abuse, the dangers of drinking and driving, and in government classes he would explore search and seizures.
"Generally being around to make a connection with the students was a plus," said Wilson. Wilson said Hoepner was the third SRO for the district. Dick LaHaye of the sheriff's department and Jeffery Fuller — one of the four remaining patrolmen — served as the SRO as well.
Hoepner's last day is Dec. 5, and he will begin his new job in Seabrook, N.H., on Monday, Dec. 9.
"I am leaving on a good note," said Hoepner.
In addition to Chief Labombarde, Sgt. Jamie Wilson and four patrolmen — Jeffrey Fuller, Thomas Bartunek, Larry Hesseltine, and Lash — comprise the police force for the town.
Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at email@example.com.
594-4401 ext. 125
Beth rejoined Courier Publications' news staff in February 2013. She previously worked at The Courier-Gazette from 1981 to 1990.
Her coverage area includes Warren, Union, Friendship, Waldoboro, Washington, and Thomaston and RSU40.
Beth has a passion for photography, and a degree from the University of Maine at Augusta, in affiliation with the Maine Photographic Workshop in Rockport.
Aside from photography, Beth enjoys running and walks along the waterfront, as well as other outdoor activities. She has a daughter, Claire, who is 13.