MILBRIDGE, Maine — Prompted by a resident who expressed her concern after finding hypodermic needles while walking on local streets, leaders in law enforcement met to discuss drug problems with about 50 participants on Wednesday at the Milbridge Public Library.

“I’m a walker, and I see and hear a lot of things around town that concern me,” Catherine Chipman said after the gathering.

She said she was pleased with the turnout and the information shared by a number of local, county and state law officers who were involved.

The officials did not make a presentation but rather opened up the nearly two-hour meeting to questions right away.

The main theme was the importance of tips from residents and what police do with this information.

Even if residents don’t see anything happen, police are acting on their tips, said Michael Crabtree, Washington County Sheriff’s Office chief deputy.

“With drug investigations, they’re a little bit complicated in nature, and they often take time,” Crabtree said. “I could fill the jail tomorrow with what I know. But we’ve got to prove it.”

But no matter how long it takes to get a conviction, Milbridge police Sgt. Brandon Parker urged people to call police with information and to call as soon as possible. If a person waits for weeks or months to share information, “by then, we can’t really do anything with it,” he said.

He also urged people to call about “anything you see that is out of the ordinary,” whether it appears to be drug related or not.

Crabtree gave the example of cars parked outside a home whose owners are in Florida for the winter.

“Chances are if you see something you don’t think is right, it probably isn’t,” Crabtree said. “Theft and burglaries fuel drug habits.”

Even something as simple as out-of-state plates on a vehicle could signal a problem, he said, because a lot of drug dealers use rental cars.

“It’s February in Down East Maine. It’s not tourist season,” he said.

The conversation included numerous expressions of frustration. One member of the audience suggested putting on a hood, getting a shotgun and running the drug dealers out of town.

Crabtree urged people not to take the law into their own hands because it’s dangerous. Also, if an altercation occurs, the citizen could be prosecuted or the drug dealer could sue the individual.

Members of law enforcement expressed their own frustrations.

Milbridge Town Manager Lewis Pinkham, who also is the police chief and organized the library gathering, said that “building a case is not as easy as people think it is.”

Parker said officers also might not always be able to handle a call right away because they are busy with another call, such as a noise complaint or traffic accident.

Crabtree pointed out that it can be challenging to cover such a huge geographic area as Washington County.

“We’re trying,” he said. “I don’t blame you for being frustrated. We get frustrated.”

Maine State Police Lt. Rod Charette also pointed out that it’s become increasingly difficult to recruit new people. As a result, departments are short staffed.

“The guys on the road are just trying to keep up,” he said.

Washington County Sheriff Barry Curtis suggested residents contact their legislators and let them know Washington County needs additional funding and police.

“All the money is getting dumped into the southern end of the state,” he said. “Let’s bring it up here.”

A couple of audience members said they were glad the meeting took place.

“Everything starts with a conversation, and we are having that conversation, which is awesome,” said one woman.

Chipman said after the meeting that she plans to write a letter to Gov. Paul LePage to express her concerns and ask for funding for fighting drugs in Washington County.

To report drug activity in Washington County, call 255-8308, or text information anonymously to 274637. Start the text message with “WCTIP.”