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12/4/2013 2:00:00 PM
Third Waldoboro Police Officer Resigns Over Uncertainty

Tom Hoepner when he started with Waldoboro Police Department in 2008. (LCN file photo)
Tom Hoepner when he started with Waldoboro Police Department in 2008.
(LCN file photo)
By Dominik Lobkowicz

Joining two other officers who resigned earlier this year over job uncertainty, Waldoboro Police Officer Tom Hoepner submitted his letter of resignation on Nov. 22.

"I decided to seek other options because of the uncertainty of the Waldoboro Police Department's future and the job security for its police officers," Hoepner wrote in the letter.

Along with Hoepner, former Detective Jason Benefield and former Officer Jeremy Joslyn resigned this summer with similar concerns.

"They both are leaving because of security," Chief Bill Labombarde said in August. "They both have families and they no longer feel secure in their employment here."

Benefield and Joslyn's resignations came at a time when the department's budget was still up in the air and facing large cuts after failing to pass at town meeting in June.

After the $641,585 budget failed to pass, the Waldoboro Board of Selectmen voted 3-2 to cut the budget by $110,000 to absorb an anticipated shortfall in revenue. The board later changed the approach to spread the cuts out, but the police department still faced a $60,000 hit.

Officer John Lash was laid off in early August in anticipation of the cuts, but was rehired after the resignations of Benefield and Joslyn.

The board's approach failed to pass with voters in September, and the department finally received an approved budget of $586,884 in November - a $54,701 cut to the originally requested budget.

The cuts included a $49,411 cut to a patrol officer position, according to town documents.

Hoepner joined the department in 2008 and has most recently been serving as the school resource officer for RSU 40. Before coming to Waldoboro, he served as the school resource officer for Lincoln Academy, as the chief of police in Fryeburg, and served for 13 years on the Damariscotta Police Department, according to The Lincoln County News archives.

Despite having submitted his letter of resignation, Hoepner said Dec. 2 his new position is not yet fully solidified. According to the letter, his last day of work is planned for Thursday, Dec. 5 and his first day at the new job would be Monday, Dec. 9.

Labombarde, who has already taken on some of the duties from the detective position since Benefield left the department, said he will also be working part-time as the school resource officer once Hoepner leaves.

"It's not a job I'm going to throw anybody into; it's too important a job," Labombarde said.

Labombarde said his whole career has been focused on working with schools and youth: piloting the school resource officer program at Noble High School in North Berwick; working as the K-12 school resource officer in Wells; and then working at the juvenile detective and youth affairs officer in Wells after he left the schools.

"I'm very comfortable in a school environment," Labombarde said.

After starting his workdays at the department office, Labombarde said he will be working at Medomak Valley High School until about 2 p.m. before returning to his normal duties for the remainder of the day.

In addition to working at the schools during the school year, the SRO typically fills in to reduce overtime as officers take vacations during the summer months, Labombarde said previously.

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