ROCKLAND — The Rockland Police Review Committee listened for two hours to comments from about 30 people who turned out for a public forum Monday night, Oct. 24.

The sentiment at the start of the session was questioning the need for some of the proposals, but the session evolved into a consensus that efforts were needed to respond to mental health and substance abuse calls with support from trained crisis workers.

The Committee will next meet Monday, Nov. 7, and will work on finalizing its recommendations which will then go to the Rockland City Council.

The Review Committee has recommended creating a standing citizen review committee, mechanisms for public feedback around policing, an arrest diversion program, a mobile crisis response body for mental health and additional related crises and the creation of a city community liaison.

Retired Deputy Police Chief Lewis Metcalf, also a former city councilor, said the Committee appeared to be looking for problems that do not exist. He said many of the community policing recommendations by the Committee are things the department already does.

In reference to dealing with complaints against officers, Metcalf pointed out when he handled complaints against officers he would get back to the complainants and notify them they could go to the Maine Attorney General’s Office if they were not satisfied with his findings. The retired officer said the Attorney General’s Office owed no allegiance to the Rockland department.

Sandra Schramm said her experiences with the department and its responses to mental health complaints were very positive and professional.

“Why are you knuckling down on the police department?” she asked.

Ian Emmott said the Committee seemed obsessed with focusing on complaints about officers.

Former Mayor Will Clayton, who now lives in South Thomaston, also pointed out many things the Committee is recommending are already done by the department.

Committee member Joseph Steinberger said he wants to see officers out of their cruisers more often and walking the streets so they can have one-on-one positive interactions with community members.

Resident Dan Flynn said he has lived in Rockland for two years and has yet to see a police officer walking on his street. He said he also has not ever spoken to an officer when he is downtown.

Residents voiced support for a diversion program to deal with people who have mental health or substance abuse issues or some other type of trauma. Greg Marley, a licensed clinical social worker, said the effort is a wonderful idea.

He said he is seeing a value shift with the recognition of the need to deal differently with many of these calls.

Councilor Louise MacLellan-Ruf said the Committee has transformed from a police review committee to one focused on the social structure. She said diversion programs work, and the work of the Committee will provide a good framework for the community.