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Rockland police receive backing from growing petition movement

By Stephen Betts | Aug 10, 2020
Photo by: Stephen Betts About 80 people turned out Monday evening, Aug. 10 to a rally in support of the Rockland Police Department.

Rockland — Supporters of the Rockland Police Department, who oppose an effort to defund the agency over time, submitted a petition Monday and held a rally that evening in time for the Rockland City Council meeting.

The petition drive is in response to the petition to defund Rockland police over time.

About 80 people attended the rally held at 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 10 at Chapman Park at Park and Main streets. People attending included Councilor Ed Glaser and former Mayor Tom Molloy and former Councilor Lewis Metcalf, who is a former deputy police chief in Rockland.

Robin Hall, a full-time Rockland resident since 2000, who lived in the city on and off since the 1990s, started the new petition during the past week and said she already has nearly 1,300 signatures with more than 300 of those from Rockland residents.

"From spending my teen years walking Main Street and driving the rotary, to raising my kids here, I have seen a huge change in the Rockland Police Department. From harassing teenagers on Main Street in the early '90s to a more understanding and better communication with the community in 2020. Our PD isn't something to defund or to even think about dismantling. They should be raised up and applauded for all they do," Hall said.

She said each citizen in the city has their own experiences with police.

"Mine leaves me grateful to Rockland PD. When a man we didn't know, jacked up on drugs and alcohol, attacked my husband in our home, it was Rockland PD that responded and wrestled that man off my husband's throat. No social worker, mental health crisis worker or drug and alcohol counselor could have done what RPD did," she said. "Although they may not be perfect and conversations on how to be better may need to happen, defunding them does not. It would leave our city vulnerable to crime."

She said citizens need to speak up and let their voices be heard.

"We cannot allow a select few to change our law enforcement, leaving us vulnerable to crime. Defunding our city police department can and will have a negative effect not only on our citizens, but on our economy as well. When crime goes up, locals will move away and tourists will stay away. Keep Rockland PD funded for the safety and security of us all," Hall concluded.

Former Mayor Will Clayton said the people signing the anti-defund petition "wish to work with, rather than against, our Rockland Police Department and the community as a whole to see what can be done to better ourselves. That can only be achieved through dialogue and understanding. Not a list of preemptive demands."

At the Aug. 3 City Council meeting, 10 people either spoke in support or submitted letters in support of the Black Lives Matter petition and the call to defund police.

RSU 13 social worker Hannah Faesy said the police system punishes people for being poor, for being addicted to drugs and for being victims of domestic violence. She said some of the $2 million police budget could be used for services such as an added social worker at Oceanside High School rather than a police school resource officer and rental assistance.

Defund petition organizer Angela McIntyre of Rockland, who organized the June 19 rally in Rockland, called for a civilian oversight board and to have trained mental health and social workers available to respond to first responder calls. She said the defund effort would be a gradual one.

McIntyre also voiced opposition to the city creating a school resource officer.

McIntyre said many people have contacted her who witnessed or experienced racial discrimination, abuse of power or misconduct by Rockland police. She said those people want to remain anonymous.

While petitions show public sentiment, they carry no legal weight with budget decisions resting with the City Council.

Rockland Police Chief Chris Young spoke to a resident during an Aug. 10 rally in support of the department. (Photo by: Stephen Betts)
Rockland Police ticket officer Troy Peasley attended the Monday evening rally. (Photo by: Stephen Betts)
Rockland City Councilor Ed Glaser attended the rally but left early in order to participate in the Rockland City Council meeting that began at 6 p.m. (Photo by: Stephen Betts)
Mike Marsh of Rockland said school funding should be cut in half, claiming that savings could be realized by eliminating layers of administration. (Photo by: Stephen Betts)
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Comments (20)
Posted by: Crawford L Robinson | Aug 11, 2020 10:35

Let me be clear. I'm not advocating for a petition of any sort. To me this petition shined a light on the root problem. I do see the real issue is how we are being overtaxed in this city. It has been a slowly developing thing where councils for years have not questioned the request lists from department heads and authorized budget requests with blinders on. I'm not anti-police or anti any needed service. I am however strongly opposed to senseless overspending and spending within ones means. What all this is doing is threatening people in their golden years from being able to maintain their homes and afford the ever increasing taxation so they can keep them. I see it as causing home purchases to be raised beyond the means of our kids and grandkids to afford. I see it as raising the costs to renters of pricing them out as the high taxes and purchase costs get passed down by landlords out of necessity to make a profit. End result is only the outsiders loaded with cash will afford to own or rent here. The effects of Covid and it's job displacements and other related financial hardships have not yet dropped on Americans with the full weight. The result will be even more devastating to future buyers, taxpayers and renters. Only the have crowd will have. Cut or reduce the revenue stream and who funds these extravagant city budgets? The have-nots will have less and find themselves homeless and helpless and lucky if they can feed themselves and their family. Now I brought it to the attention in a separate comment on a different story an example of how we are being overtaxed. I'm going to repeat it again... and don't take my word.... do your own research. Rockland= population at or near 7,102. Belfast= pop @ 6758 or close. Rockland PD coverage area=15.07 sq miles. Belfast coverage=38.37 sq mi. Rockland PD annual cost= $2,177,458. Belfast= 1,123,815. Do the math. Both county seats. Both reliant largely on tourism (which incidentally is down further exacerbating the situation) . Any bells going off yet? If we don't take a stand now... when will we? When the city is filled with only those from away who can afford to buy, tear down and build new in many cases or spend many thousands in renovations that most of us can't afford now? If you want another example take a look at Caribou with a similar population of 7,490 people, a coverage of 80 (yes eighty) sq mi and an operating cost $485,907 less than Rocklands 15 sq mi. Let me be clear that this is NOT an issue only pertinent to only Rocklands PD budget. I have a strong sense that the next FD budget request is gonna be a real eyeopener. We shall see. As to the BLM movement and the petition requests, I think 'defunding' was a bad choice of words. Reallocation should have been used so a political party couldn't weaponize it... which is what I see some of this is all about.



Posted by: Rick Winslow | Aug 11, 2020 08:25

Mr. Robinson, I do not currently pay taxes in Rockland. I lived in Rockland for 22 years until I moved out. You are saying you still need a police presence. How do you think defunding the RPD will aid in that respect? It's a slap in the face to the PD. Look at Seattle. Their Chief is RESIGNING over it. What if they ALL walked off the job? The defunding has a negative impact. What if your boss said they are defunding your job? Or you may not care.

I also see the 'Basic Income' project just evaporated yet the Senior Tax Relief is in question as the city isn't sure how that will affect the budget. Looks like it'$ more about $omething el$e than actual concern.

 



Posted by: Pamela R Miller | Aug 11, 2020 05:43

Crawford:  maybe more Rockland residents haven't signed the petition because we have no idea where to find it.  If someone can provide that information you'll get a lot more signatures.



Posted by: Valerie Wass | Aug 10, 2020 19:20

Francis,

I agree.  I never see the comings and goings of our Rockland Police Department. Haven't for along time.  Stephen Betts, do you know why our Rockland Police Department comings and goings is not in VS?



Posted by: Valerie Wass | Aug 10, 2020 19:16

Crawford,

I believe that Robin just started the petition last week.  I do not believe that it has anything to do with the over taxation.  That is a seperate issue altogether.

 

 



Posted by: Crawford L Robinson | Aug 10, 2020 14:17

Good grief!!! Mr Anderson, are you saying our police are under-trained? Perhaps you can list the situations we need to be aware of that lack training so we can protect ourselves. And Mr Winslow: Who is saying we don't need police? Show me anywhere that anybody has said we need to eliminate our PD. By the way, how much money do you pay in Rockland taxes toward the 2.1 million to even have a say about our departments or services?



Posted by: Rick Winslow | Aug 10, 2020 12:53

I know many of these police and former police. They are people just like you and I. They go to a difficult job most every day and are called upon to get your ass out of a jam. I think Rockland should do an experiment for one week. Lay off ALL police forces within the city, with pay. Let's see how long it takes for those officers to be called in for a situation. Let the mental health folks and consolers pick up the slack. I bet the latter won't get close until they call 911. Try before you buy. Because there are NO WARRANTIES!

 



Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Aug 10, 2020 12:01

Here's a novel idea, post a police log in the paper such as Rockport does, and we can read about what they do. Understanding that there is no one fits all answer, most of us concerned about affording to live here. My property taxes have increased at a rate far greater than my income. At my age I shouldn't have to return to work just to pay my property tax. I realize this isn't a concern for the silver spooners and trust fund babies moving here but many of us are not that fortunate.



Posted by: Wyatt Anderson | Aug 10, 2020 11:31

I totally support the Rockland Police Department. I very much appreciate the job they do for us. I think they should be given more money for training to better equip them for the situations they have to deal with.  I Thank you ladies and gentlemen for your service and commitment to the city of Rockland.



Posted by: Crawford L Robinson | Aug 10, 2020 08:56

Ananur. Police in other towns/cities of equal populations and larger coverage areas risk their lives as well. They do it at about 1/2 the annual cost to Rockland taxpayers. That is significant. I can give some examples. I see a lot of postings based on 'feelings'. I prefer to post based on facts. Need any examples? I'd like to chat longer but I must risk my life against traffic and Covid-19 and drive to Walmart and spend more for necessities than ever in the past.... leaving me less for property taxes.... but that's another story.



Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Aug 10, 2020 08:34

Mom, Apple pie, chevrolet, and the Rockland Police Department.  I have learned there are certain iconic troubadours whose love & affection shall remain unquestioned.  Any attempted assault shall be viewed as treason.  Good luck on your "defund" movement, I give another 10 minutes.



Posted by: Debra J Barter | Aug 10, 2020 08:14

God bless every police officer, correctional officer, security guard, and everyone who keeps my family safe.



Posted by: ANANUR FORMA | Aug 10, 2020 06:48

Their job requires risking their lives. That is significant.



Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Aug 10, 2020 03:57

Due to recovering from an injury I will be there in Spirit but not in person. Knox County Sheriff and Rockland Police Chief kneeling at the Black Lives Matter rally was enough to show me their heart. Does either department do it right all the time? Neither do I.



Posted by: Crawford L Robinson | Aug 09, 2020 21:21

To Veronica. No hostility intended. I call it like I see it.... same as you did in implying we don't already pay more than enough for PD coverage. It has nothing to do with whether or not we have an effective PD. It has everything to do with what it and other services are exorbitantly costing Rockland taxpayers. Post away... but expect rebuttals from others that may disagree.



Posted by: veronica morgan | Aug 09, 2020 20:18

To Crawford: Your post was not even comprehensible to us, sorry we posted anything. Try to believe in good intentions from other people.Hostility gets you nowhere. No more posts from us.



Posted by: Crawford L Robinson | Aug 09, 2020 19:25

I see Veronica that your driveby revaluation decreased your tax burden by lowering it by nearly $5000. You were one of the lucky ones... but wouldn't you rather pay more to increase the budget? Surely you must think the current 2.1 million is not enough.



Posted by: veronica morgan | Aug 09, 2020 19:00

Defunding the Rockland PD is not the answer as it is already underpaid. People have to remember that not everyone who has been "abused" or who is drug-addicted becomes seriously criminal. It would be great if there were better resources for them, but we are hardly an ideal society. The Rockland PD has to waste time with petty vindictive complaints, too. They are very reasonable, if you are reasonable with them. Be more understanding of people, including the police. Veronica Morgan



Posted by: Crawford L Robinson | Aug 09, 2020 15:40

Just 300 from Rockland? 1,000 folks not from Rockland? How much are they paying for Rockland services? I wonder if the lack of Rockland residents signatures has anything to do with over taxation and residents deciding to take a stand? Maybe that can be the next petition and rally. I'm betting more than 300 Rocklanders would be on board. I'm not much into rallies... but I'd go to that one.



Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Aug 09, 2020 13:21

When seeing the police chief and the sheriff kneel at the BLM rally it showed me what they are made of and where they stand. Now they need our support.



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