BANGOR- Non-emergency calls to police, specifically from group homes, low barrier shelters, and residential care facilities are keeping officers tied up and starting to cause problems.
According to officers from the Bangor Police Department, they receive more than 300 non-emergency calls from those types of facilities. Now, they’re suggesting a fee system.
“The calls we’re speaking of are the types of calls where we’re telling a client to do kitchen duty and tie his shoes, leaving without permission, really things that just aren’t police matters,” said police chief, Mark Hathaway.
After the first three calls, these facilities would be charged $31 per responding officer.
Following the eighth call deemed a non-emergency the fee would go up to $155.
“It just takes a lot of time for us to deal with those calls when we should be handling issues in neighborhoods, traffic issues and things like that,” Hathaway added.
The fire department has had a similar system in place since 2016.
Once it was instated, the number of non-emergency calls dropped and no one has received a fine.
“We do not want to deter people from calling 911, but the weight this is putting on our already stretched police force is really problematic,” said Bangor city councilor, Clare Davitt.
Hathaway emphasized this plan is not about making money but encouraging these facilities to get proper staffing and training.
“We’re looking for a 60 to 90-day phase-in period so the group homes, and the Shaw house, and the other shelters have ample shelter to make policy change to hire necessary staffing and train staffing adequately,” Hathaway said.
City councilors will be discussing this again at a Government Operations Committee meeting on September 16th.