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Antrim, Bennington

Regional police being discussed

Select boards form committee to study

  • Sgt. Vint Boggis of the Peterborough Police Department and a member of the Monadnock Region Special Response Team demonstrates some of the equipment used by the team.

    Sgt. Vint Boggis of the Peterborough Police Department and a member of the Monadnock Region Special Response Team demonstrates some of the equipment used by the team. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Sgt. Vint Boggis of the Peterborough Police Department and a member of the Monadnock Region Special Response Team demonstrates some of the equipment used by the team.

    Sgt. Vint Boggis of the Peterborough Police Department and a member of the Monadnock Region Special Response Team demonstrates some of the equipment used by the team. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Sgt. Vint Boggis of the Peterborough Police Department and a member of the Monadnock Region Special Response Team demonstrates some of the equipment used by the team.
  • Sgt. Vint Boggis of the Peterborough Police Department and a member of the Monadnock Region Special Response Team demonstrates some of the equipment used by the team.

ANTRIM — In a preliminary discussion about combining the Antrim and Bennington Police Departments, selectmen from both towns met and agreed that there are potential obstacles associated with it, but it is a possibility worth investigating.

A joint meeting of the two Select Boards took place Monday in Antrim. Bennington Selectman James Cleary said he thinks the two police departments are close-knit and both towns could benefit from police working together as one agency. He said the idea could save both towns money. Although the fire and rescue departments were also discussed at Monday’s meeting, the selectmen agreed the focus should be on combining the police only.

Antrim Selectman Rick Genest said he remembers this discussion from five or six years ago, and recalled what prevented the boards from combining the police departments back then. “Some police and fire [officials] can be very territorial, and you want your departments happy,” Genest said. Antrim Select Board Chair Gordon Webber agreed that it’s a territorial issue. “Everyone wants their name on the cruiser going by their house,” Webber said. He also raised the question of what the combined police department would be called.

Another issue that concerns the group is safety. Once Crotched Mountain Ski and Ride is open and crowds are up at the mountain, Genest said he worries that, if there’s an incident at the mountain and police and ambulance are there and something happens over in Antrim that requires an ambulance, it will take the crew longer to get to the scene.

The two boards decided to form a committee to focus on researching the cost savings since both town’s selectmen agreed that the project wouldn’t be worth it unless both towns are saving money. Selectmen agreed that one member from each Select Board would be a part of a committee, as well as police chiefs from both towns, to research this potential joint agency.

Genest said the Antrim Police Department’s yearly budget is around $600,000, including police officer benefits; Cleary said Bennington’s police budget is roughly $347,000, everything included. Clearly also mentioned that Bennington Police Chief Steve Campbell, who was also at the meeting, will be retiring in a year and a half, and combining the police departments could help with that time period.

Selectmen agreed that combining the police departments would be beneficial to both towns if money can be saved, otherwise, Cleary said, “We’re wasting our time.”

Genest said that saving money is important, but this idea is also equally about the quality of service. The committee will begin researching potential savings as well as what residents from both towns want from their police departments.

Lindsey Arceci can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 232, or larceci@ledgertranscript.com.

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