Monday, February 9, 2015

Call In The Cavalry

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.


Anonymous said...

A winning solution for Amherst. Less students, more cops. When is the vote?

Adam S said...

Interesting last comment. sounds like you heard Charlie Baker's comment at his recent UMass speech where he said he would push for more online education.

Will be watching.

Larry do you have any stats on # of times South Hadley police have been called to participate over the years?

Larry Kelley said...

Zero. The pact was only signed recently and thus far has not been used by anybody.

The Chief told the Finance Committee that Amherst could be the first.

Anonymous said...

How about some more police for a downtown beat during the day and stop the illegal drug activity and work with aggressive street people? How about some traffic enforcement of speed limits to stop the speeding all over? Our community needs more policing than just UMass.

Larry Kelley said...

Yep. Chief did say the new officer would be assigned to the downtown.

Anonymous said...

With all noise and nuisance complaints down why the need for an increase larry? Other than the fact you have nothing to report on.

Larry Kelley said...

To keep the Cowardly Anon Nitwits in line.

The Juggernaut said...

Wait, you mean the winning forumale is less students, more cops, and more overtime paid for by the students families via the state.

The fact of the matter is Amherst cannot function without these students bringing in development and business. If you think they do not contribute that much in taxes, what about the senior citizens who move to town, pay as little tax, and utilize emergency services?