COMMUNITY OUTREACH PROGRAMS
Citizens Police Academy
This involves weekly classes to residents of Franklin County over a period of six weeks. These classes are led by patrol deputies who are the people in our agency whom the community is most often in contact with. Varied topics such as traffic law, criminal law, police canines and investigations are all covered. Thre is always lots of interaction between the attendees and those leading the classes, with lots of questions. Attendees also accompany deputies on patrol to get first hand insight into what it's like to patrol rural Franklin County.It is wildly successful and we intend to continue as long as the public wants us to.
Basic Firearms Safety Courses
This is wildly successfully and popular among the public. In cooperation with the Wilton Fish and Game association as well as the Carrabassett Valley Outdoor association we have been teaching basic handgun safety courses. In 2015 the State of Maine made it legal for all persons over 21 to carry concealed weapons without a permit. We thought it would be a great idea to offer a basic safety course to teach people how handle a handgun properly and safely and teach the fundamentals for hand gun shooting.
It was interesting to us that the majority of our students in each class are women who are new to the world of firearms. It brings us great joy to see students show up with little to no firearms skills or knowledge and at the end of the
day leave the training with the skills and confidence to safely handle a handgun. This same type of class has also been offered to female students who wanted to learn to use a semi auto rifle.
A program the Sheriff came up with several years ago after realizing there were many elderly "shut-ins" in Franklin County that had no family or close friends available to watch over them. A voluntary program was developed that if requested, a deputy would visit (a person fitting this description) weekly.
The purpose to be:
1. To check on their physical well being to
ensure they are thriving in their personal environment
2. To ensure they had enough food
3. To ensure they are warm enough in winter
4. To provide some human contact and fellowship during their day
This program is very popular, carrying an average of 12-15 participants monthly and offered in communities with no police dept.
Camp POSTCARD (Police Officers Striving To Create And Reinforce Dreams) is a free week-long program for Maine kids. Counselors are volunteer Police Officers from across Maine. Sheriffs, Troopers and Municipal Officers all come together to mentor and encourage kids while improving their perceptions of law enforcement.
An average of 175 children from all 16 Maine counties join forces with over 80 Law Enforcement volunteers for a week of exploration, healthy activities, outdoor recreation, and education. Campers adjust to new places and people – all while being mentored and cared for by officers of Maine law enforcement and public safety organizations.
Law enforcement professionals (current and retired) from all 16 counties in Maine spend the week 24/7 at Camp POSTCARD; Many have been Camp POSTCARD leaders for 5,10, 15, even 20 years. Their goal is to give children an experience that will enrich their lives and give them hope for the future. During this week, campers experience officers as caring and fun-loving people primarily concerned with the well-being of children.
Camp POSTCARD gives children a new perspective on what’s possible for them to achieve; the adults who are providing these many experiences and cheering them on are officers and many other caring adults. Camp POSTCARD gives children a boost to their confidence; they broaden their horizons and have the world open up to them in ways they could not imagine.
Camp POSTCARD is a long-term partnership between the Maine Sheriffs' Association and Volunteers of America Northern New England.
Keeping Your Keys Program
Other programs we have been involved with such as “Keeping your keys” where we coordinated with RSU 9 Adult Ed, the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety and AAA
on a driver awareness program for senior drivers. It is no secret that as we age we tend to slow down which also affects reaction time while driving. This program allows drivers an opportunity to test their personal abilities to see if their reaction time has declined over time. After the classroom portion of the class students go through a serpentine driver’s course with the Sheriff as a passenger. Students are awarded a certificate of
training after the class which if presented to their insurer, may help reduce the cost of insurance.
Franklin County is a large recreational area and has a vast number of seasonal residents. We signed up hundreds of those property owners into this program. Each week, many of those properties are checked by the patrol deputies to ensure they have not been broken into and also to record the time of the check. Since many of these properties are off from the main roads, it takes the patrol deputies into areas they may not otherwise be, increasing visibility in very rural or remote areas.
This is something we never thought of doing until the Covid-19 Pandemic struck. We had so many requests from folks to drive by in order to celebrate their children's birthdays. It has blossomed and we've been able to participate in celebrations not only for children but adults and seniors and special needs individuals as well. A phone call request is all it takes and we'll do our best to be there!
Rural School Outreach Programs
Even though we do not have school resource officers, our deputies are heavily engaged with our rural schools working with the elementary grades to present a positive influence and build trust with the Sheriff’s Office. Whether they are just having lunch with the kids, talking about their jobs, showing off our K-9’s or just sledding or shooting hoops during recess, our officers consider this one of the best parts of their job. Don’t we all want to be a kid again?
The following programs have been developed during this administration and were non-existent in Franklin County prior to Sheriff Nichols' election in 2012.