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Easton May Require Police for Road Work

A police officer instead of just a flagman might soon be required for any road work in Easton that impedes traffic. But if you find yourself in need of an officer, just hope you don't need someone in records to file the paperwork. The police department is facing cutbacks and there might not be a clerk when you need one.

“If we aren't working the jobs, then the town isn't getting the money for it,” Sgt. Jonathan Arnold said in bringing the ordinance proposal to the Police Commission on behalf of the police union.

The Easton Police Commission voted to draft an ordinance to require the presence of an off-duty officer during work that requires traffic control. Town and state authorities would be exempt, but everyone else could have to pay up to $80 an hour for an officer to keep traffic moving safely.

The draft will be based on Weston's ordinance.

Easton's Police Commission is proposing the ordinance as the town's official traffic authority. But Frederick Lovejoy, the only member of the public at the meeting held in a small room inside the police department, offered evidence that the Police Commission might not be the proper authority in Easton. Commissioners agreed to review Lovejoy's evidence while authorizing Chief John Solomon to draft the ordinance.

Despite hopes that the ordinance would generate revenue for the town, the commission began complying with a request to prepare tiers of cuts to the police department's proposed 7.2 percent budget increase. Three tiers of cuts were drafted, noting the savings and the subsequent lost services.

The clerks in the records office were set up as the most likely candidates for cuts, with one lost at each tier. A squad car and services such as drive-by checks on homes of vacationing residents were also on the chopping block. The commission and Solomon agreed that the last thing they wanted to do was cut an officer.

“If anybody thinks this town is safe with only two patrolmen out there with all of those roads, they're wrong,” said Solomon.

The police commission will present the proposed tier level cuts at Thursday night's board of finance hearing.

Do you think residents should be required to hire officers to direct traffic for their work projects?

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