Police Department Update: November 2021

L to R: Officers Sam Bennett and Jeremy Riddle

Police Chief Craig Andersen, Deputy Chief Eric Small and Detective Colleen Adams joined the City Council’s Public Safety Subcommittee meeting on Tuesday, November 16, for an update on the Sanford Police Department’s recent activities.

New Officers: Police Chief Andersen introduced two new Officers who have joined the Department. Both have several years of experience. Officer Jeremy Riddle came to us from Rochester, while Officer Samuel Bennett was previously employed in Saco. Both are Sanford residents. These are not new positions, but existing vacancies that have now been filled.

Promotions: Officers Thomas Sayre and Eddie Murphy have been promoted to Sergeant. Sgt. Sayre has been with the department for 16 years and Sgt. Murphy for 11 years.

Citizen Advisory Group: Chief Andersen gave an update on the work of the Police Department’s Citizen Advisory Group. It currently comprises about 23 individuals, but new members are still welcome. The group started out with a lengthy list of topics to address, and he asked them to narrow it down to four priorities. Their number one priority is homelessness/substance use disorder, followed by community outreach, Police Department funding and neighborhood watches. Two neighborhood watches have been organized, one on High St. and one on Charles St. Chief Andersen emphasized that the watch groups will operate as extra sets of eyes for the Department, to report suspicious activity, and will not engage directly with anyone suspected of criminal acts.

Mental Health Unit: DC Small said the York County substance abuse clinician who had been working with SPD has left her position, but the search is on for a replacement. The Department received a $20,000 grant a few weeks ago and additional significant funding may still be awarded. Efforts to get a full-time clinician through Maine Behavioral Health were not successful, so the Department is putting together a proposal to hire one directly. City Manager Steve Buck said mental health services are qualified expenditures under the American Rescue Plan Act, which could cover the first three years of the cost. This would allow the Department time to gauge the effectiveness of the clinician before the City begins paying for the position.

The Mental Health Unit currently consists of Det. Adams and Jonathan Phillips, the intern who will work with her two days a week until May. Together they responded to 71 calls in the past month involving homelessness, substance use disorder and mental health. Some of their activities included:

  • Securing authorization letters from owners of the Midtown Mall properties to allow them to cite loiterers and others engaged in criminal activity for trespassing.
  • Working with a health care provider, formulated a plan with a client in crisis, and utilized the new protective custody law to connect the person with resources and treatment
  • Getting six homeless individuals into shelter or housing and three others to medical treatment.
  • Charging a couple of individuals who were camping in the woods and making a big mess, with littering over 15 lbs. The penalty for that charge includes community service. One person will be charged with criminal mischief as well. The areas have been cleaned up.

Elder Services: Officer Chris Brown, in partnership with Sanford Housing Authority, has been meeting with elderly SHA tenants to provide information on phone scams and fraud protection. He will be going to Mayflower Assisted Living and the Trafton Center in the future, and will also be a guest speaker at one of the Senior Luncheons at the Springvale Baptist Church. He asked if a Council member could attend one of his programs to speak with seniors as well. Many are particularly concerned about public transportation.

Car seats: Det. Adams reported that the Department received a grant from the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety to purchase 24 brand new child safety seats that will be distributed to families who qualify. There will be a car seat inspection at installation event this weekend (see previous story). DC Small said the Department has five certified inspectors/installers who are available on weekdays as well.

Parking issues: DC Small said he has met with Matt Hill, Public Works Department Director, about parking problems at Paul’s Market, formerly known as Sleeper’s Market, on Lebanon St. People park in front of the store, which is not legal as there is a hydrant there. There is also an ongoing issue with a pickup truck and trailer which are often parked on State St., next to the market, too close to the corner for safety. There was discussion about possible installation of signage to deter illegal parking.

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