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On December 14, 2021, members of the City Council’s Public Safety Subcommittee got a report from Police Chief Craig Andersen and some of his officers on the Department’s recent activities.

Mental Health Unit

Detective Colleen Adams spoke about her work with the Mental Health Unit, addressing homelessness, substance abuse and related criminal activity. She continues to work on issues at the Midtown Mall, but the York County Jail will not accept people for certain offenses due to the pandemic and staffing issues. One individual, who she said was responsible for 180 calls to the Police Department since September 1, went to a shelter briefly, but came back to Sanford and “started committing crimes within 52 minutes” of their return. That person is now in jail after having bail revoked on one charge, so the volume of calls has dropped considerably.

There have been multiple calls about criminal activity at the Fluff ‘n Puff Laundry, but the owner is now monitoring the business remotely with security cameras which it is hoped will cut down on problems.

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Point-In-Time Count of homeless individuals and families is coming up in January, and Det. Adams said Sanford will participate. The count determines how much money the City gets from HUD. An event will be held to provide food, jackets and other essential resources to aid in getting an accurate count and collecting demographic information.

Det. Adams said the Mental Health Unit had responded to 82 calls for service in the previous 30 days. Currently, she estimates there are 15 people living outdoors in Sanford, and an additional 12 who are in and out of homelessness. She said often the closest shelter bed is in Portland, but people don’t want to go that far, or they have mental health or substance use issues that make it difficult to get them into shelter or housing. 27 people have been sheltered or housed since the Unit was established in August.

Criminal Investigations

Lieutenant Matt Gagne, who oversees the Criminal Investigations Division, gave an update on some criminal cases the Department has been working on.

An investigation by Sanford detectives resulted in a recent grand jury indictment on three counts of attempted murder by a mother of her three children in July. The kids are now being safely cared for by their father.

Lt. Gagne is awaiting results in the case of arson at the Cabana’s Auto Body property a few weeks ago. A vehicle owned by a person living at the property was intentionally set ablaze, he said. The investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s office is still ongoing.

In a case in which Sanford detectives assisted federal ATF agents with an investigation on illegal firearms purchases, Allen Sinclair Bowman of Sanford was sentenced to 18 months in prison and 18 months supervised released. According to court records, in October and November 2018, Mr. Bowman purchased 10 firearms from three different federal firearm licensees in Cumberland and York counties. While purchasing the firearms, he responded “Yes” to a question on an ATF form which asked if he was purchasing the firearms for himself. Mr. Bowman was actually purchasing the firearms for a drug dealer in Massachusetts in order to settle a drug debt.

There are ongoing investigations into several unrelated sexual assault cases.

A person responsible for $4,000 worth of damage to fencing at the Sanford Sewerage District has been identified and there is a felony warrant out for their arrest. The individual drove a truck through fencing and gates at the District’s property during the night of November 17.

Lt. Gagne said he is forming an evidence response team, consisting of patrol officers on each shift, who will assist the detectives with basic crime scene processing, evidence collection and photography. Six officers were selected for the team, and they will go through scene processing and crime scene photography training in the spring.

Fentanyl

Chief Andersen said he wanted to bring attention to reports of fentanyl-laced marijuana in other New England states, which he said may pose a danger to people who think they are consuming safe substances. He recommended people who are purchasing marijuana for personal use get it from a reliable source, as it is not likely to be contaminated.

Deputy Chief Eric Small said the Kennebunk Police Department was at one time providing fentanyl test strips, but it was found that some illegal drug users were using them to test the potency of narcotics, which made him a little more cautious about handing them out. But, he said, when used correctly the test strips could help prevent overdoses.

Staffing

Chief Andersen gave an update on Police Department staffing. Conditional offers have been made to two individuals which will bring the Department up to a full complement of 40 sworn officers – but only briefly. Three Sanford officers are retiring in the next two months, which will reduce ranks back to 37.

A young man currently serving in the US Coast Guard is being considered as an addition to the Mental Health Unit if the anticipated COPS grant, which will fund the position, is awarded.

The Chief described the lengthy training that is required to become a police officer in Maine. The Criminal Justice Academy offers an optional two-part Pre-Service program, which includes a 40-hour online course, and an 80-hour in-person training, held at various Police Departments around the state, including York and Wells. If these are completed successfully, the candidate can work as a reserve officer, which enables them to perform 90% of police operations. They can alternatively skip the Pre-Service program and go straight to the CJA’s Basic Law Enforcement Training Program, which is held in Vassalboro full-time for 18 weeks. This training is mandatory for all officers to be fully certified. The Sanford Police Department also has its own 12-week training program which must be completed, either before or after the BLETP. Officer Nicole Root will graduate from the BLETP this week having previously completed the Pre-Service as well as the SPD course. Chief Andersen said she is an excellent officer, very dedicated.

Mayor Mastraccio said she has heard from other mayors that the Academy is difficult to get into. Chief Andersen said there have been waiting lists at times due to Covid, but often times candidates cannot pass the physical agility requirements, and it is up to the sending Departments to get their candidates prepared.

Sanford Police Association

Detective Everett Allen spoke about the recent basketball game featuring the Sanford Police Association vs. the Court Jesters. He said thanks to local businesses that donated, and ticket sales, about $12,000 was raised for community projects, including purchasing Christmas gifts for local kids, and providing assistance to a local officer whose house burned in a fire.

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