TREMONT — Discussion Monday of renewing the contract with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department for law enforcement coverage led selectmen to revisit an old idea: asking the Southwest Harbor Police Department for a proposal.
In a 3-0 vote, selectmen approved asking for proposals from both agencies. The annual contract with the sheriff’s department expires on Dec. 31. Under the current contract, the town pays $59 per hour for 30 hours of exclusive coverage each week, or about $92,000 a year.
Town Manager Dana Reed opened the discussion, saying the sheriff’s department has not indicated whether there would be any change in the contract for the upcoming year, but he wanted to get input from selectmen about the matter.
“To my mind, the sheriff’s department seems to be doing a pretty good job,” Reed said.
Selectman Kevin Buck asked if Southwest Harbor would be interested in submitting a proposal for police protection in Tremont.
Tremont is unique among towns on Mount Desert Island in that it doesn’t have its own police force. The town is assured of 30 hours of exclusive coverage under the contract with the sheriff’s department. However, when a contract officer is not on duty, coverage in Tremont is split between the sheriff’s department and state police, depending on which agency is assigned that particular “slot” at the time. During those times, the agency in charge also is patrolling other areas in Hancock County, and response times vary.
Buck pointed out that Southwest Harbor police can respond more quickly.
In 2014, Southwest Harbor did submit a proposal at the request of Tremont. The proposal, which would have saved the town about $3,000 annually, was rejected by Tremont selectmen, said Don Lagrange, Southwest Harbor’s town manager.
Lagrange said Wednesday that Reed contacted him about submitting a proposal and that he has spoken with the town’s police chief, Alan Brown, about the matter. Brown is to consider extending coverage into Tremont and possibly submit a proposal, Lagrange said.
“The question is, ‘Is it going to be good for both towns?’” he said.