July 08, 2020

Sheriff proposes universal police powers

DOVER-FOXCROFT – Piscataquis County Sheriff John Goggin has a recommendation that could save state, county and municipalities time and money.

With all the talk about consolidation under way, Goggin plans to recommend to Gov. John Baldacci that the state offer universal training, uniforms, jurisdiction and powers to all law enforcement including the Maine Warden Service and state, county and local police.

“I think Piscataquis County would be a wonderful place to start this,” Goggin told town officials, local police and the Piscataquis County commissioners Tuesday. Goggin made his recommendation during the annual meeting of local and county officials.

If all officers were on equal footing and had the same uniform and powers, there would be better cooperation among officers, fewer turf issues and better coverage, he said.

Wardens and police frequently are on the road traveling in the same direction in response to different complaints or incidents, Goggin said. He wondered why a warden who might be headed to a fishing complaint in one section of the county couldn’t also respond to a burglary complaint in the same region.

He also suggested that a municipal police officer who was passing through another community on his way to court would be able to stop and investigate a car accident.

Instead of sending three or four officers to cover two or three incidents in the same region, Goggin said, one or two officers who were in the area could respond. This would save time and money and improve protection.

Goggin admitted that the biggest obstacle in implementing the change would be the training. With some cross-training, it could be accomplished, he said.

If these officers are trained together, they will work together, the sheriff said. To those who say the change would turn Maine into a police state, Goggin said that would not happen with proper supervision and guidance.

“Piscataquis County would be a good experimental ground,” he said.

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