RICHMOND — Residents could save a substantial amount of money by eliminating the police department under proposals presented Thursday night by the Board of Selectmen.
“We all want police coverage, and we all want it at the cheapest price we can get it,” said Selectmen Chairman Bill Daniels.
Daniels said the board will present voters with a warrant article in March to contract out police services to the Cheshire County Sheriff’s office, saving $100,000 a year.
Daniels said with three petitions floating around town for the upcoming annual town meeting to either get rid of the department, or switch to the Cheshire County Sheriff’s office, the board decided to act.
“It is expensive to keep a police force,” said Selectman Carl Jameson.
The four options presented to residents at the public hearing would have the town either contract out for police services with the Cheshire County Sheriff, or keep its own department with or without a full-time officer.
The cost for a sheriff’s deputy is $71,760 year for 30 patrol hours a week, and $95,680 a year for 40 patrol hours a week. Keeping the town department with one full-time officer, an addition approved at the last March town meeting, costs $177,334 a year for 40 patrol hours.
The department now is staffed by part-time officers. Keeping a part-time department providing 12 patrol hours a week would cost $112,334 a year.
Resident Nate Jette, a police officer in Hancock, said people should be cautious before getting rid of the town department. Any emergency service for the town will come from Keene, 20 minutes away.
“There’s crime in Richmond; there’s crime everywhere,” Jette said.
Jette works in Hancock, where Richmond’s officer-in-charge, Andrew Wood, serves as chief.
Resident Andrew Wallace said the proposal from selectmen to go with the sheriff’s department will save the town money and provide more coverage hours.
“I think what’s best for the town is to get as much as we can for our buck,” Wallace said.