AUGUSTA – The Maine House overrode a governor’s veto of a bill clarifying the relationship between local police and the county sheriff departments Tuesday. Lawmakers supported Rep. Martin Grohman’s bill by a 149-0 margin after a brief debate.
“The bill began as the ‘prom bill’ because local school officials came to me with the issue of having their school resource officers provide security at off-campus events,” said Grohman, D-Biddeford. “Sometimes, these events are not in the same town as the school resides and the resource officer does not have jurisdiction in the other town.”
The legislation would allow the county sheriff to appoint the local officer as a deputy sheriff for a specific period of time and purpose.
The Maine Principals’ Association’s legislative committee unanimously supported the legislation at the public hearing in late January.
“Resource officers usually have a very good relationship with the students and could be helpful in preventing incidents just because of those connections,” said Dick Durost of the MPA. “Also, with familiarity, they could have a calming influence if they are needed to deal with a situation involving either students or adults.”
In working the bill, the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee broadened the language beyond school events to include mutual aid situations. Municipal officials testified that clarification was needed to establish the terms of countywide cooperation.
Several lawmakers spoke during the House debate about the importance of communities teaming up for more effective policing and safety initiatives.
The Senate will take the bill up as early as this week. Grohman is a first-term state representative representing House District 12. He serves on the Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology.
Ann Kim [Grohman], 233-1838