Left In Lowell

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October 11, 2013

CM Lynch: “11 new patrolmen coming”

by at 4:10 pm.

In a diary, down blog, CM Lynch responds to considerations/perceptions of LiL commenters. I’ve pulled the Manager’s comment, out & up, to give it broader presentation. Of course, in a stand alone fashion, it is a bit out of context. So, if you’d like, please click HERE to get the full scope.

Suffice to say, the CM’s remarks are engaged in the topics currently floating in the Bubble, as the City election approaches, Nov. 5th. #GOTV

Staying out of all of the other back and forth that I shouldn’t be involved with….to Joe’s points which I think are legitimate. First the quick one, I’m not aware of anyone in the professional municipal management world that has moved into the world of finance (e.g. Wall Street) though I am aware of a couple that went to a rating agencies but that was more for their knowledge of municipal finance as they were Treasurers. Career Managers pretty much stay till retirement and/or go into consulting, teaching, interim work, or doing government relations. On the issue of how big should reserves be…the standard is between 5-10%, though some communities go beyond. I’d like Lowell to get a bit higher than our current level but certainly not at the expense of services that are required. A more pressing issue is our OPEB liability, retiree health insurance. We just put $8 million aside for this but we still have an unfunded liability of about $500 million. We really should be on a funding schedule for that or we’re simply passing the burden of payment onto future taxpayers. Unlike capital debt which should be paid overtime as future taxpayers use the facility retiree benefits are paid out now, or in the near future. Its the biggest ticking time bomb for most governmental entities.

I would have hoped that people would see that the administration is willing to spend money and take other steps to make for a better community….which career managers are also judged on. We’ve built reserves back to a good level and held the line on taxes but also invested in infrastructure (I think at this point over $170 million), increased spending on schools, increased spending on maintenance, expanded recreation programs to pre-2000 levels, leveraged resources for social service and cultural programs, become more supportive of community and organizational diversity, and I could go on about the administration’s achievements. Which, by the way, are the results of great work by department heads and employees. AND, we have invested in public safety, both fire and police. We’ve added resources to both. We never laid off uniformed personnel and in fact after the crunch of the recession started adding positions back into departments. We’re currently reviewing all of the information on this and hope to have a full report out within the next week which explains this. Some civilian grant funded positions have gone away but even there we are working to reinstate with other grants or city funds. These positions allow our police department to be more effective and keep patrol officers on the street. Finally, on the much debated use of OT, the philosophy we have used is to use added overtime resources to target officers into certain areas at specified times for maximum effectiveness. This notion of “smart policing” is being adopted in numerous communities that have recognized that a single officer only provides limited coverage during high activity times while that same level of funds buys coverage many times over meaning more officers on the street. That said, there is a place for added staff in a a carefully planned and managed manner to insure we get the best people not just more people. For instance, we have 11 new patrolmen coming on within the next month.

In the end, we need to recognize the perceptions of the community regarding safety but we shouldn’t fan it. We do need to look at the numbers to see how we’re doing and how we should be using our resources and developing our strategies. On the numbers we have made great progress in knocking back crime over the past several years. But, lower isn’t as good as none, which is what we need to strive for. Plus, we see trends that need our attention now rather than waiting for the problems to become less manageable…and, the police are working at that with their use of resources and strategies, and with their requests to me for added resources and supportive policies.

Thanks for letting me weigh in…..

4 Responses to “CM Lynch: “11 new patrolmen coming””

  1. Joe Says:

    Jack,Lynne and Mr Lynne. I know that you all disagree with just about everything I say but you do not censor me and allow me to speak my mind. And today it led to some good information. So…….thanks!

  2. Magnolia Says:

    The other night I had my scanner on and they were asking for officers willing to work part of the late night shift. I do not believe that anyone volunteered and that is the problem with depending on overtime to supplement our police presence. 11 more officers would certainly be good news, as long as they continue to also replace officers that retire or leave for other reasons. I will say again - that on at least 2 occasions this week - in daylight hours , I have heard the dispatchers pull someone from their own area to take a call in another area “Because we have no one else”.

  3. Paul Sweeney (AKA Paul@01852) Says:

    @Magnolia: first of all there’s no easy way of telling whether LPD filled the late-night shift that was broadcast. I heard the same message and anyone willing to work was asked to “call the main desk” and therefore unknown if anyone did indeed call to volunteer. Second, having “no one else” usually occurs at afternoon shift change between 4:30 and 5:30 when the officers on patrol is effectively 1/2 of normal. This is usually remedied in 10-15 minutes as officers from early nights begin to go out on patrol.

  4. Magnolia Says:

    Unfortunately Paul, I have heard “no one else” a lot earlier than shift change. And from what I have been told, Only one of the requested overtime positions was filled. Normally the Park Rangers would help out - but they appear to be out because the sequester. At no point in time should this city ever be dependent on those willing to work overtime. We are down 33 officers that could be out there patrolling. There were shots fired again last night.

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