Sheriff reports more calls after abandoning state police pact

by Peter McGuire, Staff Writer Sun Journal Jan. 23, 2014

PARIS — Calls for service to the Oxford County Sheriff's Office appear to have grown substantially since the agency pulled out of a call-sharing agreement with the Maine State Police last year, Sheriff Wayne Gallant said.

According to call-volume figures provided by Sheriff Wayne Gallant, Oxford County deputies received 521 calls for service between Jan. 1 and Jan. 21 this year, compared to 297 calls during the same period in 2013.

The total amount of charges pressed in cases exhibited similar growth in the same three-week period, going from 315 in 2013 to 560 in 2014.

In a phone interview Wednesday, Gallant said harsh winter weather may account for some of the increase, but the overall growth should be attributed to taking over primary law enforcement coverage for the county, even though it was such a small sampling of calls.

In November, Gallant announced that his office and Maine State Police Troop B in Gray were abandoning an agreement that shared coverage in the county on an alternating zone arrangement.

So far, taking over for the county has not put additional strain on deputies or stretched coverage, Gallant said. In fact, it has freed up state police units who appear to be more available for backup and traffic enforcement in previously neglected areas, such as Route 2 in the Bethel-Newry area, Gallant said.

"Instead of every one of us always doing the same thing, its freed them up to cover some of the traffic that none of us before had time to do," he said.

Despite dropping the agreement, his office and the state police have continued to work together in the county, Gallant said. He pointed out how in the most recent ice storm, troopers and deputies on duty worked together to stay in certain areas, in order to be available for emergency calls.