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Auburn looks to contract for town prosecutor

AUBURN — Selectman want to use $12,000 in the proposed 2014 police budget to hire a part-time prosecutor for the town.

Right now, a detective serves as the department’s prosecutor, taking away time needed for regular police work.

Dave Dion of the Police Commissioners Board said the department wants to hire Litchfield police prosecutor Lonnie McCaffrey on a contract that would last up to one year and cost $1,000 a month.

“It’s going to be awesome. He is a very energetic and eager to work, and hiring him will free up the department to actually prosecute criminals to the fullest extent of the law and not look to settle,” Dion said.

Select Board members James Headd and Russell Sullivan both agree with Dion.

“I think that this is a good solid idea,” Headd said.

Despite the board’s approval, Dion said the reshuffling of money must be approved by the budget committee before it can be finalized.

“We started throwing this idea around in the summer. In the past we had two prosecutors, one was a part timer and the other was the officer. The part-timer eventually decided prosecuting was not her thing, leaving us with just the one,” Dion said.

Dion said that the officer now handling prosecutions, Detective Sgt. Chip Chabot, was being stretched too thin, leaving not enough time for both his police work or for his prosecution work.

“Most small police departments are now hiring attorney prosecutors, because if you’re not doing it all the time and not staying on top of the legal and case histories, your swimming against the current,” Dion said.

Dion said that while Chabot has done an admirable job as prosecutor, it will make the department stronger by having him focusing on police work.

“McCaffrey understands the budget issues and the math, and understands there is a cost associated with having officers going to court. He said he will not require the officers to go to court unless really needed, which will save us money,” Dion said.

While the contract for McCaffrey will be up to a year, Dion said that it will be month-to-month.

“We are only contracting him for a year, just to see if we like it, and the nature of the contract is a month-by-month basis and can be terminated through a 30-day notice from either party.”

Dion said that other options were discussed, such as having the county attorney handle prosecutions, but that nothing ever came of them.

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