BANGOR – Even though the Penobscot Regional Communication Center won’t be moving into its new space until the end of the year, groups already are lining up to grab some square footage in its current location in the basement of the District Court building.
Penobscot County Sheriff Glenn Ross got his foot in the door first on Tuesday when county commissioners agreed to give his detectives and detectives with the Maine State Police in Orono some portion of the space now used by regional dispatch. How much of the 910 square feet the detectives will use for joint investigations won’t be determined until later this year.
Commissioners did not vote on Ross’ request, but told Ross and Lt. Wesley Hussey, commander of Barracks E in Orono, they would support their efforts to designate some portion of the space for use by the informal task force.
The Penobscot County District Attorney’s Office, the family court’s mediation program and the county’s Emergency Management Agency have been mentioned as departments needing more space, Penobscot County administrator Bill Collins said Tuesday. None has made a formal proposal to commissioners.
Ross said Tuesday that last month’s manhunt for Andru Smart, 16, of Glenburn proved how helpful a joint operations room could be. The search for Smart, suspected of stealing more than half a dozen cars and motorcycles over a two-week period, involved about 50 police officers from several agencies.
“We were able to use a small room in the dispatch center as an emergency operation center, but we could have used more room,” the sheriff told the commissioners.
State police and the sheriff’s office having been working together for nearly 10 years, Hussey told commissioners. Three state police and three sheriff’s detectives currently work together investigating crimes that appear to be connected. They share one desk in the sheriff’s office, according to Ross.
“Our resource coordination agreement is one of the most successful in the state,” he said. “Now, we work together almost automatically.”
Recently, county and state police detectives through their joint efforts have solved a spree of residential burglaries.
“The days of a person doing burglaries in their backyard are gone,” Ross said after the commissioner’s meeting. “Burglars are doing them regionally.
“In order to put a puzzle together, you have to have all the pieces. The state police have some pieces and we have some pieces. Our efforts now seem like a seamless integration of people.”
The regional dispatch center would be ideal for the detectives’ use, Ross told commissioners Tuesday, because once the dispatchers move out, some of their equipment and the wiring for computers will remain.
“We work out of the back seat of our cruisers most of time” Ross said after the meeting. “Anything we have would be much better.”