Augusta – This morning, House Republican Leader Ken Fredette of Newport introduced legislation on behalf of Governor LePage that would help certain law enforcement agencies recruit and retain personnel in order to achieve their proper staffing levels.
The Maine State Police, Maine Warden Service and Maine Marine Patrol are struggling to recruit and retain personnel. Colonel Robert Williams, Chief of the Maine State Police, told members of the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee that during his exit interviews with troopers leaving the force, the number one reason they leave is low pay. Col. Williams told the committee one trooper left because he did not even make enough to pay his student loans. Another trooper told committee members he is giving up his lifelong dream and leaving the force because he does not make enough money to support his family.
Colonel John Cornish of the Maine Marine Patrol told committee members about his agency’s struggles to retain staff. Col. Cornish says they currently have 7 vacancies (18% of their total staff) and 5 more are now eligible for retirement. Another 5 will be eligible to retire within 3 years.
“Right now, Maine has by far the lowest paid state troopers in New England. Every day when these law enforcement officers leave their homes to go to work, they are putting their lives on the line. Their pay needs to reflect the commitment and sacrifice they make day in and day out and right now it doesn’t do that,” said Rep. Fredette. “In addition to our ongoing efforts to end domestic violence here in Maine, we are also in the midst of the largest drug crisis this state has ever seen. We can ill afford to have a dramatic decrease in the number of law enforcement out their patrolling our cities and towns.”
LD 1653 would do the following:
Currently, a starting Maine State Trooper makes $18.57/hour, far less than the starting pay for some municipal police officers. For example, the Gorham Police Department starts their officers out at $23.19/hour, $4.72/hour more than a Maine State Trooper.
In Vermont, starting pay for a state trooper is $27.00/hour, $8.53 per hour higher than here in Maine. In New Hampshire, state troopers start at $31.64/hour, $6.67 higher than Maine.
There are currently 32 vacancies in the Maine State Police and another 25 are eligible for retirement right now.