BLUE HILL – Selectmen have approved the lease of the town’s police cruiser to the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department until the end of the month.
They put that limit on the lease of the cruiser last week to give them time to review several issues including insurance.
This issue arose after the town canceled its contract with the sheriff to provide additional patrols in the town. The town has paid for an officer to be on duty in the town, but ran out of funds this year before the end of the year. The town provided the proper notice to the sheriff and the arrangement ended last week.
Selectman John Bannister reported on Friday that Sheriff William Clark had requested that the town rent the cruiser to the department.
“They’re short a cruiser, and we’re long one cruiser,” he said.
The town had purchased its own cruiser three years ago after it initiated the contract with the sheriff’s department.
The selectmen had mixed feelings about a lease agreement, not wanting the cruiser to sit idle, but concerned about the town’s liability in a situation where it owned the cruiser that was being used by someone else.
“I think we should rent it,” said Selectman Dwayne Gray, “but with several caveats.”
Selectman Jim Schatz noted that the selectmen have not yet discussed future plans for police coverage in town, which might require the cruiser. He expressed some concern about the amount of use it would get by the sheriff’s department and what shape it would be in when the town got it back.
Although Bannister shared those concerns, noting that he fully expected the town to have some type of local officer working for the town by spring, he said he was inclined to go ahead and rent the cruiser to the sheriff. He reminded selectmen that the sheriff had provided a cruiser for the town when it started extra patrols until it had purchased its own.
The biggest issue was the question of insurance and whether the cruiser would be covered by the department’s insurance, with the town named as beneficiary if the cruiser were damaged or demolished in an accident.
“We need to clarify the issues of insurance and other details and then make our decision based on the information we get back,” Schatz said.
They agreed to rent the cruiser to the department until the end of the month at the 43 cents per mile rate. That would more than cover the annual payments of $6,000 on the cruiser.