In 2012, I promised to:
PROACTIVE VS. REACTIVE PATROL
The command staff and I worked diligently regarding patrol services, we decided that patrol was more than just going out in a car responding to calls. Patrol was about being highly visible and also providing extra services to the public to restore the public’s trust and truly foster the spirit of Community Policing in a rural county.
We believe that part of patrol’s job mission was to educate while serving the public. Reaching out to the public with various programs contributes to establishing a relationship of trust. With that in mind our first program was our version of a Citizens Police
Academy. This involved weekly classes for residents of Franklin County over a period of six weeks. These classes were led by the 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. There is always lots of interaction between the attendees and those leading the classes, with lots of questions. It is wildly successful and we intend to continue as long as the public wants us to.
In an ongoing effort to provide service to all residents of Franklin County, the Sheriff's Office provides support services to our local police departments by responding as backup for them as well as assisting with covering complaints when they are lacking in manpower. The Sheriff's Office also provides specialty services to local departments who may not have the resources to provide those services within their own agency. We maintain an excellent working relationship with the Maine State Police to ensure all calls for service are handled promptly and efficiently.
The second program was our elder check program. This arose out of a need to protect the elderly who are shut in at home with no local support network. Our deputies stop by on a weekly basis and physically visit those folks who wish us to. This program accomplishes many things, face to face contact which many elderly are missing, a welfare check to ensure that basic needs are being provided and someone whom they may reach out to - to ensure their safety.
For decades the way the Sheriff’s Office conducted patrol was primarily reactive.
Deputies would drive around without a real purpose as they were not given a mission. They would primarily receive a call for service and respond to it. When not taking calls they may conduct some traffic enforcement.
When my team took over, we discussed how we needed to provide a mission to the patrol deputies. We worked on ways to empower them to engage the community as servants and leaders. This led to a third program we offer, which is our property check program.
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. Since many of these properties are off from the main roads, it takes the patrol deputies into areas they may not otherwise be. This provides for additional visibility of marked Sheriff’s vehicles, which in itself is a deterrent to crime. It also provides for more opportunities for community members and deputies to interact, which invariably leads to sharing of information, some of which has aided in solving crimes. The introduction of Mobile Data Terminals to the cruisers allowed deputies to access information and write reports while out in the field instead of returning to the office, also contributing their time being more available to the community. Increasing police visibility acts proactively to change the minds of potential law breakers and mitigate crime.
Transparency and accessibility have been greatly increased since taking over. We increased transparency by offering a weekly report that is sent to the press. It keeps the public informed about crime that is occurring in their area, we also created a web page for the entire county. On it you will find not only important county information but also arrest logs that assist the press in knowing who have been arrested and charged. When it comes to accessibility, the Sheriff is only a phone call away and available anytime by calling 207-860-4201 or emailing at email@example.com.
Community outreach programs, a change of patrol techniques, transparency and accessibility has established that trust which inevitably leads to information needed to help solve crime. Our ongoing cooperation with our community ensures that we will continue to be effective in our policing role for Franklin County.
One of the most visible programs of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office is our K9 unit. The K9 teams provide valuable services to the community that no human can do. Most people know that dogs have a much greater ability to smell odors than any person. This ability is what makes them such a valuable part of our agency. Their job is focused on detecting illegal narcotics, finding lost children and wandering adults, tracking down fleeing criminals and providing safety and security to all the police officers in Franklin County. The K9 teams also participate in school and community visits and educational programs.
In 2014, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office established a new K9 training unit to better suit the needs of local and county K9 teams. What started with just Franklin County’s three K9 teams grew over the next two years to add Somerset and Oxford County K9 teams. Then over the next few years training group continued to grow. This group operates under the name of All Points Maine Police Canines to encompass the teams from across Maine that have joined and train here each month. Since inception, we have trained three new dogs for Franklin County, two new dogs for Washington County, one new dog each for Somerset, Oxford, Kennebec, Knox and Sagadahoc Counties as well as one dog each for Norway, Rumford and Clinton Police departments. The dog breeds include Labrador Retrievers, Dutch Shepherds, Malinois and German Shepherds. These teams can frequently be seen training in and around Franklin County, practicing and developing the skills the dogs and handlers need to be a reliable and effective asset to the communities they serve.