Rockport to consider larger police force
Rockport — Increased levels of personnel may be the focus of budget talks in Rockport this year, according to Town Manager Robert Peabody.
He said Nov. 19 that select board members have deemed personnel a “high priority” during the upcoming budget cycle. Particularly, Rockport officials hope to make staffing changes at the police department, library and town office, Peabody said.
The subject of law enforcement also came up during the recent select board listening tours, particularly from Simonton Corner residents, who noted they “would pay higher taxes for more police” presence, Selectman Geoff Parker said during an Oct. 15 meeting.
According to a report summarizing the listening tours, several other villages within Rockport also expressed concerns about speeding vehicles throughout Rockport as well as dealing with fireworks — though Rockport does not have a fireworks ordinance — and pointed to an increased police presence as a possible solution.
“Returning an officer to the PD [is a particular focus],” Peabody said this week, adding the select board also has mentioned increasing a part-time children's librarian to full-time and considering making a 30-hour shared position between financing and assessing to a full-time position as well.
“All of these would take us back to levels of three to four years ago,” Peabody said.
According to the town manager and articles previously published on VillageSoup, a school resource officer position at Camden Hills Regional High School — previously funded by a federal grant — was cut from Rockport's budget in June 2006. The officer worked at the school during the school year and for the town during summer months. A year later, Rockport and Camden participated in a study considering the benefits and pitfalls of combining police departments. According to previously published reports, consolidation efforts were discontinued when an estimate of $50,000 to continue the study and determine if there would be cost savings was revealed.
Peabody said another officer also was lost through attrition when he retired and his position was not filled.
Rockport Police Department was established in 1965 as a part-time night patrol, according to previously published reports. Currently, the department is staffed by a full-time chief, administrative assistant/part-time patrol officer, a sergeant and three patrol officers. Back-up coverage is provided by Knox County Sheriff's Office deputies.
Courier Publications Associate Editor Stephanie Grinnell can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at email@example.com.