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City councilors approve resource officer position for Caribou schools

CARIBOU, Maine — Caribou city councilors have approved hiring a resource officer to be employed in Caribou schools.

Voters from the RSU 39 communities of Caribou, Stockholm, and Limestone approved allocating about $70,000 in the school budget for the position during a May 16 district budget, and Superintendent Tim Doak said he believes the officer will not just act as a “security guard,” but also build relationships and trust with the students.

During the July 9 City Council meeting, Caribou Police Chief Michael Gahagan told councilors that RSU 39’s monetary share will cover about 85 percent of the cost, with the police department picking up the other 15 percent. He also said the resource officer would work for the department for “about eight or nine weeks in the summer.”

During their July 9 meeting, Caribou city councilors, from left, Joan Theriault, Tim Guerrette, Mark Goughan, Mayor David Martin, Nicole Cote, and Hugh Kirkpatrick, vote on a request for a resource officer to work at Caribou schools.
(Christopher Bouchard)

A breakdown of the police department’s cost was included in the July 9 Council packet, indicating that, during the next summer school break, an officer working from June 17, 2019, to Aug. 11, 2019, would receive $9,728 in salary and $5,180.92 in benefits for a total of $14,909.54.

Gahagan added that RSU 39 would cover costs related to the resource officer’s special training to work in schools — roughly $500 plus travel expenses — and that the police department would pay for uniforms, equipment and police academy training.

Councilor Joan Theriault asked if the officer would “physically be in the school.”

The chief said the individual would, and that while the specific details of the schedule have not yet been worked out, “it may be a couple days at the high school and a few days at the middle school, or vice versa.”

“It will be their schedule,” he said, referring to the school district. “We would also like to have [school officials] involved in the selection of the officer.”

Mayor David Martin said the shared position “sounds like a great deal.”

Five of the six councilors present voted in favor of the request. Councilor Hugh Kirkpatrick did not indicate why he was opposed. Councilor Phil McDonough was absent and excused from the July 9 meeting.

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