"Cadillac Police Department"
To the Editor:
The 12 members of the Bethel Budget Committee have met three times with the town manager and the selectmen to build the budget. The administration has proposed to make our Police Department bigger and better to attract and keep police officers. This proposal has earned the name of the “Cadillac Police Department” from some of us.
I was disgusted at the obvious attempt to inflate the Bethel police budget proposed in the Saturday edition of the Lewiston Sun-Journal. People of Bethel have made it plain to our town administrators that they want 24/7 coverage by our local Police Department. It is obvious that a proposal to maintain that request is being presented as more costly than going into contract with Oxford County Sheriff’s Department.
The selectmen should be considering what the constituents want rather than what they want. If the administration is against making our local patrol and police coverage work, it is not going to be beneficial enough to raise salaries and provide more benefits. Even with our status quo department as we now have, it is better than most towns in Oxford County that don’t have their own police department.
The Oxford County Deputies are home sleeping after midnight weekdays and after 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Bethel Police are patrolling 24/7 in Bethel and also answer and cover emergency calls during those hours for the Sheriff’s Department in other neighboring towns.
The article in the Sun-Journal doesn’t tell you that if we enter in to the contract with the County, we have to hire an Animal Control Officer at $6,000/year or that we have to give our fleet of police cars to the Oxford County Sheriff’s Department valued at approximately $50,000, which adds up to $351,000 to hire them. Also the article adds yet another police car for the Bethel Department to build up the cost. The just mentioned facts bring county costs nearly equal with exception of Bethel offering health insurance to all town employees. Probably in the future Bethel will have to offer healthcare to all town employees when Obama’s health-care program kicks in anyway.
On April 19 there is a scheduled public hearing about the proposed referendum on the police issue at Crescent Park School at 7 p.m. We should ask why six positions are proposed for the Bethel Police Department and only three under the county contract. I personally think we should keep the Bethel Police Department and cut the Cadillac budget to a more affordable one.
Robert L. Blake
Bethel Budget Committee Member