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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Grant to bolster police efforts
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
By MIKE PLAISANCE
[email protected]

SPRINGFIELD - Police Chief Paula C. Meara, in a City Hall meeting yesterday, told city councilors and residents concerned about recent homicides that state approval to spend a $450,000 grant will increase police presence on the streets.

The added presence will let police attack hot crime spots, according to Meara and Police Commission Chairman Timothy J. Ryan, who was reached by telephone after the meeting.

The money - the first of two, $450,000 payments the city is expecting from the state - will be used primarily to pay officers overtime, Ryan said. The second $450,000 is due to come in the fiscal year beginning July 1.

More officers will work the busy overnight and weekend shifts and the Detective and Narcotics bureaus will be augmented, Ryan and Meara said.

Meara said she learned only yesterday that the city was free to use the state grant, but Ryan said state officials gave approval on Thursday.

Meara faced questions and criticism in the meeting of the City Council Public Health and Safety Committee at City Hall that drew about 20 people.

The city has had five slayings this year. There were 17 last year.

Meara struck two themes in the 90-minute meeting. She said police are working hard and well under tough conditions.

"I want you to know your men and women are out there and they're doing a great job," she said.

She also said the key to rebuilding the city's sense of safety is to restore funding cut from her department during the past few years.

"It's all a matter of money ...," she said.

Councilors Timothy J. Rooke, Domenic J. Sarno and Angelo J. Puppolo Jr. pressed Meara for her immediate plans for fighting crime.

Many people, Rooke said, "believe that we don't have a plan. I know my phones are ringing."

"I'm not being disrespectful," Sarno said. "It just seems that we're not in control of anything ... and we need to get over that hump."

Meara said the approval to use the $450,000 grant means the department can put into action the plan that involves paying officers overtime and bolstering certain shifts. Ryan said later that those efforts can begin immediately.

Also, Meara said, police are making progress. Hundreds of guns have been removed from the streets, for example, she said.

In response to a question from Puppolo, who asked how many officers are needed to guard the cell block, Meara said uniformed personnel are needed for each shift to guard jail cells.

"When you say, 'Get the officers out on the street,' I can't have nobody guarding the cell block," Meara said.

"I just asked you for a number, chief," Puppolo said.

Meara said the cell block requires two to six officers a shift.

Michael G. O'Reilly, local FBI bureau chief, attended the meeting. Resident William G. Conley asked O'Reilly how Springfield compared with other places.

O'Reilly said Springfield has the regular big-city problems, but also an excellent police force.

"The Police Department is truly outstanding. Maybe not perfect, but it's outstanding," O'Reilly said.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Re: Grant to bolster police efforts

Related story from 01 Mar 05

State police on the way
Tuesday, March 01, 2005

SPRINGFIELD - In the next four or five weeks, the public will see a lot more "blue" on the streets in the form of state police, Police Chief Paula C. Meara said yesterday.

"We are working with the state police for more visibility," Meara said.

Meara made her comments one day before she was due to meet with the City Council Public Health and Safety Committee today at 4:30 p.m. Members had asked her to attend to discuss her crimefighting strategies in the face of five homicides this year, including one that took the life of mayoral aide Stephen C. Pegram, who was found shot to death in his home Feb. 15. There were 17 homicides last year.

Meara said state police will patrol some of the hot spots in the city, augmenting the efforts of city narcotics officers, detectives and specialized units.

She declined to say how many state police officers will participate, but she said the extra presence will be noticeable.

"There's going to be an announcement on that," she said of the numbers
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Re: High crime in Springfield promps various crime fighting

Police consider security cameras
Thursday, March 03, 2005
By MIKE PLAISANCE
[email protected]

Installing cameras on the street and in cruisers were among the crime-fighting ideas discussed in a City Hall meeting this week.

Surveillance cameras would be placed in about nine high-crime spots, Police Chief Paula C. Meara said yesterday, though she said she was unsure of the timing and cost.

"It could happen this year," she said.

Police are seeking grants and talking with business officials to share costs for such cameras, she said.

"We're trying to push for improved public safety through the use of technology," she said.

Meara discussed the surveillance cameras briefly at a meeting Tuesday of the City Council Public Health and Safety Committee at City Hall.

Police Commission Chairman Timothy J. Ryan said yesterday officials also are talking with major businesses that have their own security cameras to see whether city cameras could link with their systems. Nothing is imminent, Ryan said.

"I know that's something we would like to explore ...," he said.

With five slayings already this year, officials and the public have been asking Meara to meetings to discuss ways to deal with the crime.

In Holyoke, surveillance cameras have been installed on utility poles in the Flats and Churchill sections but have yet to begin operating. Police there are developing procedures for viewing, recording and storing camera images.

At the Springfield meeting, Lewis Hackman of Wilbraham Road suggested installing videocameras in cruisers to boost public trust in police.

"The neighborhood that I live in, they don't trust the Police Department," Hackman said.

But, he said, people would like to be able to work with police and having recorded images would help with that.

"Everybody can see what happens vs. just taking the officer's word," Hackman said.

Meara said cameras in cruisers would be subject to collective bargaining with labor unions.

The patrolmen's union would bargain about cameras in cruisers, but bigger issues remain to be dealt with, said Thomas M. Scanlon, president of Local 364, International Brotherhood of Police Officers.

One issue is that police are working without a contract. Another is that the city has put a wage freeze on police and other employees since July 2003, he said.

Yet another issue is that the presence of the state-appointed Springfield Finance Control Board has people questioning who is running the city, he said.

All of that uncertainty, he said, makes police believe officials know nothing about collective bargaining.

"We don't trust our employers. ... I don't trust the control board," he said.

Other residents making suggestions were members of the Sector E Beat Management Team who met yesterday at the Salvation Army.

Members, hearing earlier that state police may assist city police in cracking down on Springfield hot spots, questioned whether more money was going to the troopers for the effort. If so, they said the money would be better spent on city police who are familiar with Springfield and its problems.

"I really think that's terrible, bringing in state police to do what our police can do" if they had the resources, said Lorraine LaFlamme-Bernier, Salvation Army community service director and a member of the beat management team.

Meara has said an announcement about state police assistance is coming, and hasn't been specific about the details of the aid and whether more money is going to state police to pay for overtime or if the officers will be working within their normal shifts.

Council to discuss added police funding
Friday, March 04, 2005
By MIKE PLAISANCE
[email protected]

SPRINGFIELD - The City Council will consider a nonbinding resolution Monday asking the state to restore funding so the Police Department can be fully staffed and fears about violence can be addressed.

"The 'City of Homes' is turning into the city of guns and violence. We've had some people riding on a bus get shot at. We've had some terrible murders, home invasions, and it isn't that the police aren't doing their jobs," said Councilor Kateri B. Walsh, lead sponsor of the resolution.

Five people have been slain so far this year compared to 17 all of last year.

The resolution asks the state Legislature and the state-appointed Springfield Finance Control Board to restore $4 million that state funding cuts stripped from the city budget in early 2003.

The argument of Walsh, Police Chief Paula C. Meara and others has been that if money is restored, community policing can blanket hot-crime spots again and the sense of public safety will return.

In 2003, state cuts forced the layoffs of 75 officers, though 26 since have been rehired.

Current staffing totals 448, consisting of 384 patrolmen and 64 supervisors.

In July, the state put the five-member control board in charge of the budget because Springfield was unable to handle a deficit. Latest estimates show the deficit to be $21 million, but it could grow by at least $10 million if the city loses court battles with labor unions and must give pay raises frozen since July 2003. The budget is $442.3 million. Executive Director Philip Puccia said the control board also considers public safety a top concern.

To that end, Puccia said, a consultant, Carroll Buracker & Associates of Harrisonburg, Va., is being paid $171,000 to do a management study aimed at improving how the Police Department works.

Spending decisions about police will wait until the Buracker report is filed in 10-12 weeks, Puccia said.

Also, he said, one of the first moves the control board made in August was to authorize the rehiring of 17 police officers, 17 civilian police employees and seven firefighters.

"Public safety decisions are not being made in a vacuum," Puccia said.

Council President Timothy J. Rooke said the council would strengthen its position with the state by including a plan detailing how the money would be used instead of just asking for $4 million.
 

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Re: High crime in Springfield promps various crime fighting

MCOA41";p="58179 said:
Members, hearing earlier that state police may assist city police in cracking down on Springfield hot spots, questioned whether more money was going to the troopers for the effort. If so, they said the money would be better spent on city police who are familiar with Springfield and its problems.

"I really think that's terrible, bringing in state police to do what our police can do" if they had the resources, said Lorraine LaFlamme-Bernier, Salvation Army community service director and a member of the beat management team.

Meara has said an announcement about state police assistance is coming, and hasn't been specific about the details of the aid and whether more money is going to state police to pay for overtime or if the officers will be working within their normal shifts.
The "Salvation Army" can shut their pieholes, the Troopers won't be on OT.

"Beat Management Team?" WTF is that, anyway?
 

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Re: High crime in Springfield promps various crime fighting

"When you say, 'Get the officers out on the street,' I can't have nobody guarding the cell block," Meara said.
:shock: :shock: Tell me I was not the only one to notice that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Re: High crime in Springfield promps various crime fighting

My opinion. Get the officers out of Dispatch (1 LT and several SGT's I think) and put them in a more important role. Let professional Civilian Dispatch personnel run it.

Also replace the officers or at least most of them with people trained to work the cell area. Other towns/cities do that. Put the PO's where they are needed. Heck records, traffic office and such could use civilians that get paid less then officers. I think they already do this.

I know Hartford does this. Plus the coombined the Dispatch so SPringfield should do the same so the FF's working Fire alarm can go back on the crews.
 
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