Friday, January 19, 2001
In Praise of the Carlisle Police
Several weeks ago the Carlisle Police solved a series of malicious acts on Sunset Road by assigning officers to stake out the neighborhood over a period of time. Sure enough, an officer on stake-out duty did witness an act of vandalism and made an arrest. Once again, our intrepid law enforcement officers solved another mystery.
Our police force seems to solve every case that comes their way, from brutal murder to bomb threat to common misdemeanor. When we first arrived in town, we read in the Mosquito of a hideous murder committed near Great Brook State Park. A man had abducted a woman in Cambridge, driven her to a field near the State Park, cut her throat, run her over with his car, then set her body on fire with gasolinerun-of-the-mill fare for a big city, but front-page news for a small town. The fire attracted the attention of a Carlisle Police officer, who happened to be female. She held the suspect at gun point until backup units arrived. It was the kind of story you might see on "NYPD Blue."
Other less dramatic police operations have been just as efficient. A few years ago, we read of the speed trap the police had set up on West Street. In less than two hours, sixty speeding tickets were issued, only one to a Carlisle resident. One morning I awoke to discover my car rolled part way down the drive. Neighbors fared less well; their truck had been broken into, windows smashed, the stereo system stolen. The police investigated. Within a couple of weeks I had a letter of apology from the offender: case closed. Recent cases of vandalism at the school and potato gun attacks were investigated and brought to speedy resolution. Crime just doesn't pay in Carlisle.
I called Police Chief Dave Galvin the other day to ask how he accounted for Carlisle's policing prowess. He attributed their success to thorough treatment of every case, trivial and serious. He soon hopes to join the New England Middlesex Law Enforcement Council, an organization of twenty neighboring towns and cities that share resources. Carlisle is the only town in the area that doesn't yet belong. When a boy was lost for several hours a couple of months ago, for example, the department could have borrowed dogs from another member town to search the woods. (The boy was finally located unharmed without the aid of dogs.)
I also asked if the department had any unresolved cases, apart from on-going investigations. Chief Galvin immediately recalled an incident of twenty years ago. A young man in his late twenties, whose parents then lived in town, was found severely beaten by the side of Bedford Road. As he was taken to the hospital, he told the Carlisle Police he knew who had assaulted him. Unfortunately, he died in the emergency room, and the case has never been solved.
Not only do the Carlisle Police patrol our town, but they also run the Visiting Santa program, the Christmas tree pick-up, and the toy drive for the Greater Lowell Department of Social Services. An officer has just completed a course on installing child safety seats in cars, and he can now offer a seminar on their proper installation.
When people move to Carlisle, they usually cite the rural character of our town, or the fine school system as reasons for their relocation. But our police department is another jewel in our crownas murderers, vandals and speeders can attest.
Relying on Our Mosquitoes
The year 2000 census tells us that New Englanders are fleeing to the sunbelt, with the population of the Commonwealth barely holding constant over the last decade. But that fact makes little sense in Carlisle, where the town population has grown steadily over the past century. Mid-century, town residents numbered about 700; by 1980 we were over 4000; today the population hovers around 5000. And it's not over. People continue to seek out Carlisle's excellent schools, good property values and rural nature.
Concern about the consequences of growththe need for more town services and the loss of open landhas been the major town issue for decades, and will continue to be our number one public concern until we run out of available land. We have talked about it endlessly, but found few solutions. Neither ledge, nor swamp, nor blood-thirsty mosquitoes have protected us from development. Clearly, voting down mosquito control cannot be our only strategy. Wishing has not worked. Neither has raging at developers.
In this issue we celebrate the addition of another 71 acres to our common wealth and honor Ben Benfield, a citizen whose vision and generosity have demonstrated the only reliable ways to protect our limited land resources: donation of land to the town (or a foundation), conservation protection, and purchase. (See page 1 and the centerfold.)
While the gracious generosity of a few citizens is greatly appreciated, hoping for such contributions is not a plan. If we want to retain open space and provide for future needs, we must find means to acquire land. With limited financial resources, we cannot buy every parcel that becomes available, but must identify our needs and plan our acquisitions carefully. The municipal land committee, with representation from all town boards and committees, is inviting citizen participation in a "land planning day," from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, February 10. If you can't donate a few acres, donate a few hourswhile we can still do something about it.
© 2001 The Carlisle Mosquito