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Chief Craig Andersen, Deputy Chief Eric Small, Lt. Chad Allen and Detective Colleen Adams of the Sanford Police Department joined the City Council’s Public Safety Subcommittee meeting on February 22, 2022 to provide an update on the Department’s activities.

Online Reporting: Lt. Allen spoke on the progress of the online reporting system. The system will allow citizens to report, via the internet, misdemeanor crimes in which there is no suspect. He gave some examples: criminal mischief, vandalism, burglary of a motor vehicle, animal complaints and motor vehicle complaints. Felonies, and misdemeanors in which there is a suspect (for example if you witness someone breaking into your vehicle), would still have to be reported directly to an officer. He said developing the system has required a lot of testing to eliminate bugs in the system, and at this point he estimates the process is almost complete and the system will be rolled out “pretty soon.”

City Manager Steve Buck said one advantage of the system is citizens will be able to access it from any mobile device. Links to the system will be available on the City’s website as well as Facebook. Councilor Hanselmann said she has had the opportunity to try out the system and it is fairly user-friendly and straightforward.

Lt. Allen said dispatchers will encourage people to use the online reporting system where appropriate. Dispatchers will have the ability to send a link to the system via text message directly to a caller’s phone. However, use of the system won’t be mandatory. Residents who aren’t comfortable with technology will still be able to speak to a live person at any time.

Lt. Allen said in addition to making it easier for residents to report a crime, there are other benefits to the system. It might lead to reporting of incidents that have been under-reported in the past, because the victim felt it wasn’t important enough to bother going down to the Police Station or taking up an officer’s time. And by automating reporting of lower-priority calls, it will leave officers available for more high-priority calls including felonies.

Councilor Martell expressed concern that the system’s ease of use might lead to some people abusing it, and asked if there is a plan to filter out nuisance reporting. Lt. Allen replied the system not only requires users to submit an email address, but also tracks the IP address that identifies an individual computer or device.

OPTIONS Clinician: Chief Andersen introduced Lacey Bailey, the new OPTIONS clinician for York County who is based in Sanford. She will be assisting the Police Department’s Mental Health Unit as a resource person on substance abuse calls. (OPTIONS stands for Overdose Prevention Through Intensive Outreach Naloxone and Safety.) The position is paid by Sweetser.

Rotary Donation: DC Small spoke about the recent fundraiser organized by Elias Thomas and Heather Beaupre of Key Exit Realty and hosted by the Rotary Club at Kai Asian Fusion in Springvale. See previous story.

Point in Time: Det. Adams reported on the Point in Time count of Sanford’s homeless population. This is part of an annual nationwide effort to determine funding for cities based on homelessness levels. Volunteers from several local organizations assisted in the count, including Sanford Housing Authority, York County Community Action, St. George’s Church and North Parish Church. The effort was based out of North Parish Church to provide a central location from which to offer food, clothing, toiletries, gift cards, tents and more, purchased with funds from the Rotary fundraiser.

Det. Adams said the counts are never completely accurate as they depend on finding all homeless residents within a narrow window of time, and their participation is voluntary. Of the 22 surveys completed, 15 were for males and 7 for females. Fourteen of those reported at least one disabling condition, including physical and mental disabilities, chronic health conditions, or drug and alcohol use. Six reporting being survivors of domestic violence. respondents ranged from 21 to 66 years old. Some were newly homeless, while others reported being homeless for all of the past three years.

Councilor Martell asked if gas cards are offered for those homeless people who have cars. Det. Adams replied that it is a good suggestion, as she knows of some people who are spending all their money to stay warm in their vehicles as they are unable to find affordable housing.

Volunteers: DC Small said the Police Department’s Citizen Advisory Group has discussed opportunities for volunteering. He said the town of Scarborough has a group called Volunteers in Police Service and would like to organize something similar, but was looking for guidance on liability. Mr. Buck said the City’s insurance policy covers volunteers if the City Council sanctions the group, there is a policy on training and they stay within the scope of defined activities. DC Small said he will work up a presentation for a future meeting.

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