MOUNT DESERT — The Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Police Departments (MDPD) have made significant progress on goals set last year under a chief-sharing agreement, Chief Jim Willis told League of Towns elected officials at a meeting last week.
The role of the League in the chief-sharing agreement between the two towns, Mount Desert Town Manager Durlin Lunt said, was that the group endorsed the concept and wanted to see how it would work.
“I think we had a very productive year,” Lunt told the Islander. “I think Jim actually exceeded many of the goals. There are exciting new opportunities for collaboration going forward.”
Willis gave credit to his officers and other staff. “There’s been very little resistance internally, in fact it’s been the opposite of that. I can write policies, but if they’re not willing to go out and do the work, it falls on its face. They welcome it; they’re fun to work with. The credit for any successes we’re having lies with the employees.”
The goals included establishing a second-in-command in each department and an administrative assistant position to be shared. Lt. Kevin Edgecomb is second-in-command in Mount Desert. Lt. David Kerns fills that role in Bar Harbor. Karen Richter moved from a dispatch position to the administrative role.
A new mission statement for the Bar Harbor department, created in a process led by Kerns, was adopted and endorsed by the Town Council in May. MDPD reviewed their existing mission statement, which remains in place. The departments are reviewing their policies and procedures, Willis said, with the goal of creating a shared policy manual by the end of the year.
Changes also are in the works to make patrol procedures, use of part-time staff and other workflow match up in the two departments.
A new mutual aid agreement is in place between the two towns, and a separate agreement with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) made all officers deputy sheriffs. “This provides a second layer of authority for working in each community party to our mutual aid agreement and allows us to assist other communities during times of need,” Willis said.
He also told the group about a memorandum of understanding with HCSO for use of a Cadillac Mountain radio transmitter to enable radio communication between the two departments and dispatch centers.