Aroostook police departments to receive grant money for COVID-related expenses
HOULTON, Maine — Police departments across Aroostook County will receive additional funds to help them take on the unique challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The departments are receiving the funds from the Coronavirus Emergency Supplementing Funding program, or CESF, which comes from the Bureau of Justice Assistance as part of the U.S. Department of Justice. The total amount of the grant for Aroostook was $82,500, according to Aroostook County Sheriff’s Department Commander Joey Seeley.
“We applied for $82,500, and that’s what we got granted,” Seeley said. “So every law enforcement agency, local and county, gets money, as well as the jail.”
The funding was received by the sheriff’s department to be distributed to each department based on the number of full-time and part-time officers employed there. This includes Houlton Police Department, receiving $8,700; Presque Isle, $10,200; Caribou, $11,100; and Fort Kent, $4,200. Police departments in Ashland, Fort Fairfield, Washburn and Limestone also received grant money.
As a condition of receiving the grant funds, the money must be spent on things related to the ongoing pandemic, such as masks and gloves, but also things like any technology needed in order to perform Zoom calls.
Seeley said the money was already being administered to the departments, and could be applied retroactively if the departments provided receipts or invoices.
Though Seeley and the sheriff’s department are acting as the fiscal agent responsible for the distribution of funds for the grant, they will not assess an administrative fee, ensuring all of the funds go to the police departments.
“How it works in the state of Maine is, instead of dealing with the eight different departments up here, they deal with one person, then I deal with the leg work for the other ones around The County,” said Seeley. “I think it just simplifies it for the state, dealing with one person versus several agencies.”