APD Chief Scott Livingston (right) presents his budget to the Amherst Finance Committee
In his budget presentation to the Finance Committee last week Amherst Police Department Chief Scott Livingstone brought the fiscal watchdogs up to date on his response to the $160,000 Davis Report -- especially timely since the anniversary of the unforgettable Blarney Blowout fast approaches.
While the Town Manager has added two new police officers to his FY16 budget (starts July 1st) the net result is really only one increase for APD, since a 3-year Department of Justice grant that formerly financed one officer will no longer pay for that officer.
Thus the Chief is still looking at ways to add patrol officers to his overburdened department.
His second in command, Captain Jennifer Gundersen outlined a grant proposal for more officers that has been submitted, but the problem is Amherst is a safe and somewhat wealthy community, which lowers the odds for grant approval.
Captain Gundersen also told the Finance Committee the cost to implement joint training with UMass PD -- another Davis recommendation -- is $1,200 per hour, with 24-36 hours required. Not the kind of money that's easy to find in a tight budget.
The good news from the Chief, however, is Amherst recently signed the "Western Mass Mutual Aid Pact." This will allow the surrounding towns police departments to respond when a call is put out for help.
Blarney Blowout 3/8/14
Interestingly regional law enforcement departments started working on this pact in response to the freakish Springfield tornado in the summer of 2011. Fire Departments have been successfully using mutual aid for many years now.
The Chief stated the activation notice has already been issued for March 7th. So unlike last year, a bevy of local police officers will be available to back up Amherst, UMass, and State police.
And presumably UMass will continue to use the successful tactics recently employed for the Super Bowl, most notably banning guests on campus the weekend of the event. Last year 7,000 visitors registered the night before Blarney Blowout.
The winning formula is really quite simple: less students, more cops.