The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 7, 2008

Police Chief urges “call anytime” to deter crime

Chief John Sullivan of the Carlisle Police visited the Board of Selectmen (BOS) on October 28 for a routine report on operations. He noted an increase in both housebreaks and white collar crime. He also made the case for continuing with police details on many road projects instead of hiring civilian flaggers.

Crime rate rising

With the economy down, crime in Carlisle is rising. “We’re very, very busy,” said Sullivan, noting that several in-depth investigations are in process. Four break-ins in Carlisle have occurred recently, and identity theft is also very high. “This is different from what we usually see,” he observed, noting the Carlisle Police are working with the North East Municipal Law Enforcement Council (NEMLEC) to share intelligence on housebreaks and other crimes in the region. He urged the public to, “Call anytime” if you see unusual activity. “You’re not bothering us. Take a plate down” if a suspicious-looking car is seen.

Youth programs

Sullivan noted his officers are “very professional and treat the citizens well.” Projects include a domestic violence group and Restorative Justice for teens who get into trouble. Sullivan noted about 15 to 20 Carlisle youth are involved in Restorative Justice as “an alternative to going to court.” Much time is spent with the school on the Drug and Alcohol Resistance Education (DARE) program, and on school safety training. He notes a recent lockdown was undertaken to test security procedures, and even school buses were evacuated.

Enforcing bike laws

In response to citizen complaints about side-by-side biking and other violations, the Carlisle Police Department has become “one of the most aggressive enforcers of bike laws,” stopping about 50 bikers and ticketing a few repeat offenders. When a biker attempts to appeal, the police call in witnesses. “We spend a lot of time and hold them accountable,” said Sullivan. Biking events are required to supply insurance information and a contact person.

Equipment upgrades

The department recently was notified of approval of a MIIA Loss Control Grant for $5,000 to replace the cell watch monitoring system which was too old to be repaired. Sullivan noted a digital radio system will be needed within five years. Cruisers are being purchased with digital, so the incremental cost of base radios and repeaters is estimated at $150,000. The department can communicate with other NEMLEC police departments over an alternate channel. The communication console approved at Town Meeting has been installed with 911 tested and running. “We now have state of the art communications” for receiving calls.

Cost savings

Improvements have been made to the station, including window replacement and painting. Paving of the station parking lot is planned for spring. Sullivan endorsed the work of the prisoners sent by the sheriff’s department, who painted the station at no cost to the town except for lunch. He suggested using them for other town projects, emphasizing that these were low-threat level prisoners, and “they did a great job.”

Flagging details

A change to state law which now allows civilian flaggers on some road projects formerly protected by police details is “a very big issue” to the rank and file who “lose the opportunity to make more income” that they have come to rely on (see “Carlisle Police share detail costs with Selectmen,” October 3). Sullivan also feared losing authority, noting he would not be informed of opportunities for backups and delays. It was noted that the DPW and utilities such as NSTAR and Verizon are still required to hire police.

According to the Boston Globe, civilian flaggers will be used on state road projects where speeds are below 45 m.p.h. or where traffic is light, interpreted to mean less than 4,000 vehicles per day, or where barriers slow traffic. Each municipality is allowed to negotiate with local police unions about what will happen on local roads that meet those criteria.

Hult wondered if the chief would support having authority over civilian flaggers and discretion regarding assignment of details. Sullivan was non-committal, pointing to the advantage offered by having trained officers in town who could be pulled off details to aid on-duty police in an emergency.

Selectman John Williams suggested the use of CCTV to provide tips and alerts to citizens. Hult wondered if a producer could be found to make a TV ad for the police. “We’d welcome that,” answered Sullivan. ∆

© 2008 The Carlisle Mosquito