Dispatch vacancy prompts changes

MOUNT DESERT — The police department here has been short a dispatcher since early March, when a full-time dispatcher was promoted to full-time patrol officer. 

“We have been advertising this vacancy since early February and have hired two different individuals for the position, one who worked two weeks and resigned, the other who withdrew her employment (application) prior to beginning,” Police Chief Jim Willis said in a May 26 email to Town Manager Durlin Lunt. 

“We have utilized current patrol and dispatch staff to fill open shifts, resulting in increased overtime costs and staff fatigue. That staffing model is not sustainable.” 

Willis said that if he is unable to hire a dispatcher soon, he would be forced to close the dispatch office in Mount Desert between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. seven days a week. In that case, Bar Harbor dispatchers would provide overnight dispatch coverage for Mount Desert. 

Willis told the Islander on Tuesday that he still has not been able to fill the vacant dispatcher position in Mount Desert. He said Bar Harbor dispatchers will start covering the overnight hours for Mount Desert on June 27. 

To prepare for that, he said, a phone has been installed in the lobby of the police station in Mount Desert that people who walk in can use to make direct calls to Bar Harbor dispatchers. And there are security cameras that can be monitored from Bar Harbor. 

“We are also working with our phone system provider to determine the best way to forward our lines [to Bar Harbor] from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.,” Willis said. 

“This plan ensures continued normal staffing for patrol in Mount Desert 24 hours a day, seven days a week with an officer stationed at the Mount Desert Police Department.” 

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]
Dick Broom

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