ORONO — The town of Orono is moving to combine its police and fire departments into a public safety department.
Town Manager Sophie Wilson said this comes after Police Chief Josh Ewing announced his resignation after 22 years with the town.
With the vacancy, Wilson said they looked at the current staff’s strength and vulnerabilities, and she said Orono has an outstanding police department they want to withhold.
She said Orono Fire Chief Geoff Low will become the town’s public safety director on Nov. 5.
Low said this will be a unique experience.
“If you look around the state of Maine, I’m not sure of any other fire chiefs that are filling the public safety director role, where they’re in charge of both police and fire departments, especially in a town of this size, so I think it’s a great opportunity, and I also think it’s a unique thing in the state,” Low said.
According to Low, there will be someone running operations on each of the fire and law enforcement side of the house, which will allow him to do higher level administration work.
Wilson said Cpt. Daniel Merrill will be appointed to chief law enforcement officer deputy chief.
“The idea of being able to allow him to grow and lead, learn to lead the day-to-day operations while you still have a seasoned manager taking care of some of the bigger management issues seemed like a softer way to encourage somebody along in their career,” Wilson said.
Wilson said they are working to fill both police and fire department vacancies, but she doesn’t expect the community will see a huge difference with the change in structure.
She said they will be in communication with them, and if the new format doesn’t work, it can change.