At Monday night's selectmen's meeting, Police Chief David Breen was one of several department heads making budget presentations in advance of the April town meeting. During his presentation, the police chief noted that FY '12 had been difficult for the department because several officers sustained injuries while on duty, resulting in an unexpected increase in overtime costs.
However, much of the talk was about the future - specifically the town's increased need for emergency personnel when Market Street's first phase opens up in the next year or so.
According to the chief, one student officer is set to begin training at the academy in March, on track to becoming the town's 12th full-time officer. He would reportedly be available for shifts no earlier than December because of the various training requirements for new officers.
Breen also noted that Lynnfield has kept its complement of officers at about the same size for the past 25 years despite the significant growth brought on by other housing developments in town.
To help gauge the town's future staffing needs, Breen reported that he has spoken with colleagues about the comparable Legacy Place Mall in Dedham. There, he reported, the major new development produced a 1,165% increase in service calls over the commercial space that had previously existed at the site.
With this in mind, he added, Lynnfield is also likely to see a much higher volume of service calls to this part of town simply based on the fact that in the past, the place was a golf course that didn't draw many calls in the first place.
Breen went on to say that in the spring of 2013, he would hope to add two additional officers in anticipation of the large new commercial and residential project being open for business. More long-term staffing needs could then be determined based on actual call volume.
Still, Selectman Al Merritt noted that the development's landlords will be providing their own security details as well, and that it is not the town's responsibility to fully staff the security needs of Market Street at Lynnfield. Town Administrator William Gustus added that Market Street could also provide the opportunity for officers to work some paid detail shifts.
Another key priority for the department in the coming fiscal year is a full-time detective, which will allow Lynnfield to more closely cooperate with other towns in crime investigations, and to also close more cases and prevent more crimes in the first place.
"This is essential to quality investigation," said Breen, pointing out that currently, two patrol officers provide the town's detective services.
Along with the staffing needs, Breen cited a few new capital needs for the department as well. For example, he cited the aging condition of the department's 9mm Glock weapons, and noted that many departments have upgraded in order to keep up with more heavily armed criminals.
With the trade in of the old guns, this budget item would amount to $12,150.
The police department will also request:
- A new law enforcement sedan with various features at a cost of about $31,803.
- Two new toughbooks (specially equipped computers used by law enforcement personnel in their vehicles) with vehicle mounts for $10,729.
- Two laser speed detectors (LIDAR) for $6,990. This is reportedly a significant upgrade over the older radar anti-speeding technology.
- A custom stealth radar unit for $6,595 that can be used in various ways to help deter speeding.
- New body armor for $10,980. The chief indicated that much of the department's current body armor is beyond its recommended use time and that some personnel have even bought their own.
- Finally, $1,800 for a Citizen's Observer 411 system that allows people to send anonymous tips electronically to their local police.