The Value of Partnership
We are very fortunate at the Waldo County Sheriff’s Office to have dedicated and professional personnel. They perform difficult work in sometimes dangerous environments to ensure our community safety. The Sheriff’s Office patrol division has a total of 22 sworn deputies. This equates to one sworn deputy per 1,797 citizens. This is well below the national average of 1 sworn to every 416 citizens. Here in Waldo County, a community of 26 towns spanning 720 square miles, in 2021 our deputy sheriffs responded to over 9,000 calls for service, conducted 1,175 traffic stops, made 425 physical arrests and issued over 100 criminal summonses.
While performing their duties our deputies encounter individuals struggling with a wide range of challenges that result in them coming into contact with law enforcement personnel. It is an understatement to say that our deputy sheriffs have much to consider and juggle as they work to accomplish our agency's primary goal of enhancing public safety. It is essential that we provide our deputies with as many resources and options as possible so they can perform their work safely and effectively.
This is why I have placed such an emphasis on building community partnerships over the past eight years as the Chief Deputy. I recognized early that we would all benefit by having every available community resource working together to address the many complex issues driving the criminal justice system. We quickly found many partners that were eager to collaborate. Organizations like Volunteers of America, the Restorative Justice Project, Greater Bay Area Ministerium, Seaport Community Health, Maine Behavioral Health Services, Sweetser, Sequel Care, Groups Recovering Together, Waldo County YMCA, Waldo County Emergency Department, Healthy Acadia, Maine Health Equity Alliance, Goodwill Work Force Development and so many others joined us in partnership..
Our partnerships have also encompassed area law enforcement agencies including the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, the three other Sheriff’s Offices in prosecutorial district 6 including Knox, Sagadahoc and Lincoln Counties, and local Police, Fire and EMS services.
These partnerships have not only resulted in all of our organizations working collaboratively, it has also opened the door to many grant opportunities. Over the past eight years our collaborations have served as the basis for grant applications that resulted in a number of successful grant awards. Three of the larger grants obtained by partners included the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP) grant obtained by Penobscot Community Health Care (PCHC), the parent organization of Seaport Community Health. This grant was a three year $1,000,000 grant to bolster the local response to the opiate crisis. Volunteers of America was able to acquire another three year grant award under the Second Chance Act for $750,000 to expand their work within Waldo and Knox County. The Restorative Justice Project was successful in obtaining a three year federal grant award for $1,000,000 to establish Justice Centers over the four county prosecutorial district which includes Waldo County.
These three grants alone account for substantial contributions to our local partnerships but they are only a portion of the grant awards received. Other smaller grants have been awarded to support various elements of our work by organizations such as the United Mid-coast Charities, the Rappaport Foundation, Healthy Acadia and the State of Maine SUDAP grant. In total our partnerships have acquired over $3,000,000 in funding to support our local efforts.
We have not stopped with these accomplishments. Currently, Volunteers of America has two pending grant applications and the Sheriff’s Office has one pending. The three applications total $1,700,000 in funding that would support recovery services and community-based policing efforts. We’re hoping to be successful in the applications, and if we are, will be sure to update everyone.
Our community partnerships have yielded valuable economic benefits for Waldo and surrounding counties. More importantly, these partnerships and the grant funds they have generated, are making positive impacts in the lives of our friends and neighbors. The ripple effect these impacts make will undoubtedly be far reaching. Building these partnerships is not about a hard or soft on crime approach, it’s about employing a balanced, smart on crime approach, and that is why I’m committed to a multifaceted community based approach to enhancing public safety.