Public Safety Subcommittee 8/9 Meeting Notes

Detective Erik Rae and his sweet new "G-ride" supplied by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The City Council’s Public Safety Subcommittee met Tuesday, August 9. Mayor Anne-Marie Mastraccio sat in as Chair for Councilor Ayn Hanselmann, who was out of town. The other Subcommittee members are Councilor Jonathan Martell and Councilor Becky Brink.

Railroad Ave. Sign Request: Public Works Director Matt Hill said he had a request to add deer crossing warning signs to Railroad Ave., but said that half mile stretch of road has four speed advisory signs already. “Additional signs are not going to slow the public down appreciably,” he added. Councilor Brink agreed. Mayor Mastraccio asked if there was data that people respond more to deer crossing signs than other signs. Mr. Hill responded that a study in Montana showed that deer crossing signs do not prevent accidents. Councilor Martell said he slows down when he sees them.

Speed Enforcement: Mr. Hill has procured a sign that displays the speed at which someone is traveling, and DPW Deputy Director Pete Smith has been moving it around to various locations in town. Deputy Police Chief Eric Small said Traffic Officer Rick Bucklin has doubled the Department’s number of traffic stops since he started June 21st. He has mostly issued warnings, but also a fair number of citations, and has addressed speed complaints as they come in through the online reporting system. On September 1st, Ofc. Andrew Raymond will take over traffic enforcement duties, which is part of a planned rotation to keep the officers fresh. DC Small said having the traffic officer has significantly decreased motor vehicle accidents in Sanford. Regarding car vs. deer accidents, he said there were 31 in all of 2021 and there have been 20 so far this year. Mayor Mastraccio asked about the School St./Route 4 intersection that recently was the scene a horrific fatal accident. It is scheduled to be reconstructed with turn lanes and a full signal. Mr. Hill said MaineDOT has two engineering firms working on the design and the project is on track to be constructed in 2023/24.

Fleet Update: DC Small told the Subcommittee the decision has been made to turn in the five support vehicles that the Department leases and get new ones, rather they buying out the leases and then being faced with significant maintenance costs in a few years. Because used vehicles are selling very well right now, they have good equity, and he will be able to get six new cars to replace the five, which will help with the Department’s vehicle shortage. The cars will be Kia K5s, which is the new name for Optima.

Social Worker: The Department has given a conditional offer to an experienced social worker to join the Mental Health Unit. Eight candidates were interviewed for the position. DC Small hopes to introduce her at the September meeting.

Internships: Chief Craig Andersen introduced Katherine “Mabel” Laird, a Springvale resident and U.S. Navy veteran who will be interning with Police Department Chaplain Jackie Thornton. Ms. Laird said she is in the ordination process with the United Church of Christ and has a passion for “serving those who serve.” Subcommittee members welcomed her aboard. Chief Andersen also said he has been approached by a Husson College student who would like to intern with the Department doing statistical analyses of the Mental Health Unit and Traffic Enforcement, which could help determine a metric to measure the effectiveness of those programs. If the College approves, which he indicated is very likely, the student will work with the SPD for the fall semester.

Safe Streets Initiative: Detective Erik Rae has been assigned to assist the FBI in the Safe Streets Initiative, a task force that focuses on drug-related street gang and violent crime problems, including interstate drug trafficking which impacts Sanford. Det. Rae will be the York County representative on the task force. The FBI has supplied him with a brand new Chevy Tahoe that will double as his detective vehicle. “This partnership brings federal resources to our community and ensures assistance during significant incidents,” said Chief Andersen.

Training: Detective Everett Allen completed a training course certifying several other Sanford officers in ATV operation. The Department is awaiting delivery of a side-by-side to use in patrolling the trails. Chief Andersen said they have had great feedback from the details that have already begun, with no complaints. Det. Allen is at the National Computer Forensic Institute in Alabama this week learning about cell phone forensic investigations. This training is federally funded including all his travel expenses.

Mental Health Unit: Detective Collen Adams spoke about issues on Heritage Dr. across from the International Woolen Mill. The property has turned into a dump site with needles and trash everywhere. There is a person apparently living in their van there, but the windows are covered with black bubble wrap so they cannot be seen. The City’s Unlawful Parking ordinance requires officers to observe a person sleeping in the vehicle to ticket them. The van is unregistered so they have been given ten days’ notice or it will be towed. She said it could be a nice area if it were cleaned up. City Manager Steve Buck said the City cannot legally enter the Regco-owned property to clean it up unless it goes through the Dangerous and Hazardous process. It is a complicated issue because there is significant environmental contamination from the industries that were located there, and the City must avoid environmental liability. He will inquire with the City’s attorneys if cleanup can be done as long as it doesn’t disturb the surface of the ground, and notify Codes to issues notices of violation to start the process. Mr. Hill added that High St. in that area is becoming a problem because sink holes are developing due to material under the street, which will have to be addressed at some point.

Tanguay St.: There was discussion about issues that residents of Tanguay St. have been having since the street name and numbers were changed. The City did everything correctly, but Mr. Buck said the problem boils down to overreliance by FedEx, UPS and other companies on Google Maps, which has not updated its information despite repeated notifications by multiple City departments. There were a few property owners who had not changed the numbers on their houses which was also causing confusing with deliveries, those people have been issued notices of violation.

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