SANFORD, Maine — Deputy Mayor Lucas Lanigan used part of the September 3 City Council meeting to address concerns, from citizens and himself, over Sanford's drug problems. Lanigan's comments directed right at the police department.
“They are unable to handle any drug issues right now currently and this is out of the mouths of our officers to our citizens," said Lanigan during open comment. "This is not the first time that I’ve heard this and it’s not the second time and it’s not the third. I’ve been getting this a lot.”
Lanigan referenced emails he's received about homes 'known to be drug heavy' and how the police are not handling multiple reports.
"They fall back on the MDEA designations or the FBI designations that we don’t fund them for that and they can’t do this," said Lanigan."I know other communities are getting it done and I’m wondering why our community isn’t.”
Chief Thomas Connolly spoke to NEWS CENTER Maine following a Public Safety Sub-Committee Tuesday, one week after the Deputy Mayor's remarks. Chief Connolly did not address the statements directly but explained how his department handles drug investigations.
“We do what we can do as a uniformed police department," said Connolly. "We don’t have the ability to do undercover narcotic investigations. That requires special expertise skill and equipment and we don’t have the resources to do that.”
An effort no different from many police departments across the nation battling the opioid epidemic, says Connolly.
“Maine has been especially hard hit by the opioid epidemic and we’ve had a lot per capita compared to other places," Connolly said, "We’re very high up on the number of people who are using and unfortunately dying from opioid overdoses.”
Sanford Police will be supplying an officer for the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency Drug Task Force in York County. The chief planned on having the transfer done by October 1. SPD will increase patrol efforts when three new recruits graduate from the Maine Criminal Justice Academy.
Connolly believes by adding to MDEA, Sanford reaps the benefits with local drug enforcement investigations.
Deputy Mayor Lucas Lanigan did not return our request for an interview.