PITTSFIELD (WGME) — Police officers in Pittsfield said they fear for their safety over the town’s failure to hire new recruits or replacement officers.
Town leaders say three officers left last spring, leaving just two full-time patrol officers, plus a school resource officer who also patrols.
According to WGME, all three officers signed a letter to the town detailing their concerns over burnout, fatigue, and their own safety.
Days after that letter was made public, two Pittsfield officers were kicked and bitten by a woman while booking her into jail.
In a separate attack in which the school resource officer was responding to a brawl, he was head-butted and sucker-punched several times by a man.
“It’s sad to see police officers get assaulted on calls. But unfortunately, it happens all the time, everywhere,” said Pittsfield Town Manager Katheryn Ruth.
The school resource officer injured was the only one on duty at the time — backup from local and state law enforcement had not yet arrived.
The three officers told town leaders the department’s current staffing is inadequate. With the police chief and an officer now in the police academy, there are five members of the police department.
There are also openings for two more full-time officers. In an effort to fill those positions, the town council approved large pay increases and $60,000 for signing bonuses.
“That’s a really good incentive. If anyone out there, out of state or in southern Maine or up north, anywhere, this is a great place to work,” Ruth said.
The town manager hopes to hire two new officers as soon as possible. In the meantime, she said they have eight reserve officers who can help out with the patrol duties.