New Park Ranger hired to patrol Bridgton parks, beaches

NEW PARK RANGER Evan Sanborn, left, poses with Bridgton Police Officer Phil Jones on the Bob Dunning Bridge, at the entrance to Bridgton’s Pondicherry Park. (Geraghty Photo)

NEW PARK RANGER Evan Sanborn, left, poses with Bridgton Police Officer Phil Jones on the Bob Dunning Bridge, at the entrance to Bridgton’s Pondicherry Park. (Geraghty Photo)

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

Folks in Bridgton will see a new presence patrolling town parks and beaches this summer, on a bike, in a bright yellow shirt.

He is Evan Sanborn, a June graduate of the Law Enforcement Program at Lake Region High School. Sanborn, the son of Trina and Mitch Sanborn of Bridgton, has been hired part-time as the town’s first paid Park Ranger.

“He’s a community resource, and is perfect for what we need right now” to ensure that the rules are followed and people feel safe enjoying the town’s recreational resources, said Bridgton Police Officer Phil Jones.

Although littering, vandalism, and disruptive behavior can and does happen from time to time on town property, Jones said, “There isn’t a specific problem that prompted us to create this program. It’s more of a need to be a proactive presence in town.”

Jones said the department’s current eight-person force doesn’t allow officers the time or resources to interact with the public as much as they’d like, and Sanborn’s patrols will help in that regard. Using a department pickup to ferry a donated police bicycle from place to place, Sanborn will spend 30 hours a week checking on conditions at Pondicherry Park, Highland Lake Beach, Woods Pond Beach, Sabatis Island on the Moose Pond Causeway, Stevens Brook Trail, the Powerhouse Boat Launch, Willis Park and Salmon Point Beach.

Interim Police Chief Jerry Hinton said Jones, as the department’s liaison to the Law Enforcement Program, will work with Sanborn as he learns the ropes of his new job.

Sanborn will be equipped with a radio, by which he will be able to call in to the officer on duty, should a police response be needed. Sanborn will not have any power to arrest or detain people.

Funding for the position, $3,000, was included in this year’s budget at the request of former Police Chief Kevin Schofield. The money was taken from the reserve officer’s account, which Hinton said typically has carryover funding available.

In future years, Hinton said he hopes the Board of Selectmen will agree to make the position full-time.

 

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