Goals set high for new chief

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — The town could have a new police chief within two months, according to Town Manager Don Lagrange.

The search, which closes in a week, has attracted about 14 applicants, Lagrange said.

Southwest Harbor has been without a police chief since Dave Chapais retired in October. Lt. Mike Miller is serving as acting chief of the department. The tenuous nature of this arrangement has made finding a permanent chief a priority for town officials.

“We need to get this thing done,” Lagrange said. “We need to make sure the department is functioning at 100 percent.”

The department currently is down two full-time officers. One part-time officer has been working on a full-time basis to help fill the gap, but state statute allows that arrangement to continue only for a short time, Lagrange said.

The successful candidate most likely won’t be someone interested in maintaining the status quo of the department.

The Acadia-area League of Towns, of which Southwest Harbor is a member, has been exploring consolidation in many areas, including law enforcement, Lagrange pointed out. Two other member towns of the league, Bar Harbor and Mount Desert, presently share a police chief, and officers from those departments have a mutual aid agreement that gives them law enforcement powers in both towns. If Southwest Harbor is to join in such an arrangement, the new chief must have the experience and skills to get the department ready for the move, Lagrange said.

The job description developed for the police chief search supports that goal. The chief is to work with the town manager “to support a collaborative bid to participate in an island-wide police department in the near future.” Elsewhere in the document, it states that the chief would maintain a mutual aid program with neighboring towns that is “geared to a potential collaboration with area law enforcement.”

Chief Jim Willis of the Mount Desert and Bar Harbor police departments is to assist town officials in selecting the new chief, Lagrange said.

Willis also is drafting a new mutual aid agreement between his departments and Southwest Harbor. Lagrange said he was unsure when selectmen would review the proposal.


Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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