The majority of this week’s letters respond to a letter from Milton resident Holly Bessette, titled “Re: ‘Milton considers K9 program,’” which ran in the Oct. 11 issue of the Milton Independent.
Holly Bessette has clearly done the math about the Milton Police department. One hundred ten – 140 calls per week and 168 hours in a week does equal less than one call per hour. I’m sure that every officer would love to be able to handle a call in less than an hour. To get the investigating, paperwork, follow-up and just plain stupid stuff done in one hour would be a miracle. Now if he could squeeze in the hours of mandatory training (you know, tase the right guy, know how to enter a locked-down elementary school, that sort of thing). Then he could drive his patrol car to exactly the right place for the next hour’s crime.
We could save a ton of money if we could hire this guy. Instead we have 15 professionals (more good math) working hard to do all this and more. They do spend time with kids. They probably know almost every at-risk kid in town. Maybe the can’t counsel all of them, but they do make referrals. I know they spend a lot of time working with families of troubled kids, deescalating situations, offering alternatives to both parents and kids and involving other agencies to follow up.
When they respond to dangerous situations, they make their way through traffic quickly and skillfully. This is becoming increasingly difficult as traffic in town increases. I served on the rescue squad for a long time. I am always impressed with their skill.
If you want to see an example of how good our 15 people are, Thomas Savard of Milton and his accomplice committed their break-ins in Jericho, Westford, Underhill, Grand Isle, Charlotte, Georgia and Shelburne and Milton. Most of these towns are not covered by agencies like the Milton Police. They were captured by Milton and Shelburne Police. Do you think that they would have driven to so many outlying towns if Milton had a less professional force?
If Milton police want a canine, I think we need to listen to them very carefully; they know their business, and they probably have a good reason for wanting one. A dog that can identify drugs in the schools and help control dangerous confrontations may be valuable addition to Milton’s law enforcement community.
You are correct, “Milton is a pretty safe” place to live, but it is “because” of our police department, not in spite of them. I also agree that there are only 168 hours in a week. I took the time to do some research; let’s go with your low-end average of 110 calls per week. Going by these figures, each officer would have 1.5 hours per call, if they did nothing but respond to calls.
Patrol officers spend their time patrolling, traffic enforcement, accident investigation, criminal investigations, domestic disturbances, truancy issues to name a few and let’s not forget the barking dogs, cow in road, etc. Let’s consider your basic traffic stop. They have the time for the initial stop. If the ticket is contested, they have court time at later dates. If it turns out to be an intoxicated driver or suspended license, then they have to complete an affidavit, intent to suspend, custody form, bail statement, then, at a later date, there will be court appearances.
The detective bureau consists of two people. A typical criminal investigation can entail up to 30 days. There are follow-up investigations, interviews with witnesses and suspects, trips to the crime lab in Waterbury with evidence, getting subpoenas and warrants signed by a judge and served, writing affidavits, court appearances, etc. This does not take into account the undercover work that is not indicated above.
The two old Ford Crown Victoria cruisers were replaced with a Ford Interceptor and a Chevrolet Tahoe (they no longer make the Crown Victoria police package.) These cars were slated for replacement due to age and mileage. I feel most people will agree 4-wheel drive vehicle is necessary in Vermont winters, and I can’t imagine the color of the car makes significant difference in the price. I am pleased that we were able to get such nice “expensive looking” and practical replacement vehicles.
These men and women deserve our support and the tools, to include a K9, to continue to make Milton a “safe” place to live. If you don’t realize there is crime in Milton, it’s because they are doing their job.
You gave your opinion on the police staffing and K9 program … now I would like to give mine.
You said we live in a pretty safe community, and I agree. We are very lucky to live in a safe community if you consider that according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics report, the average ratio of full time officers per 1,000 residents is two full time officers. According to the 2012 Census, Milton has 10,352 residents, which means we should have 20 full time officers. We should be thankful our police force can keep us so safe, considering we are short-staffed by five officers.
You said police average 110-140 calls per week, and with 168 hours, that equals less than one call per hour. But the chances there will be just one call per hour is slim, as you can’t plan calls. Then you have the hour when there are three calls in progress. Three officers (one-fifth of the staff) are needed in that same hour. Fifteen officers may seem like a lot, but don’t forget they cover 24 hours a day, every day, including holidays.
You said our tax dollars would be better spent on keeping our youth active and busy. This is already being done. We have an awesome Rec Department that offers our youth a variety of activities. We have a brand new library with books, games and computers to use. There are dollars that fund school sports and clubs such as drama. I don’t believe kids commit crimes out of boredom. It’s addiction and greed that turn our youth to do unthinkable things. (K9 units can sniff out drugs before the drugs can enter the front doors of our schools.)
What parent would not love the idea of having a K9 unit just minutes away when an “every minute counts,” frightening situation occurs? A child has wandered off, an older person becomes disoriented and is lost … if just one person were recovered by a local K9 unit, it would have more than covered the total investment of the program, and I am sure no one would ever question its need or worthiness again.
You said there are so many officers everywhere like it is a problem. I like seeing them drive by my house. It’s a presence that makes me feel secure. Sometimes we all take them for granted. I think sometimes we forget to just say thanks!
I read with interest the letter from Holly Bessette regarding the need for fewer police officers in Milton. She expressed her concern for even more support of the police force given that “Milton is a pretty safe to live in.” Really, Holly? Milton IS a safe place BECAUSE of it’s terrific police department, not in spite of it!
As for the youth in Milton … Most don’t “turn to drugs” because of police involvement. The police don’t just get involved after the crime but try to get involved with the kids before they commit crimes, and I for one am proud of the job they’ve done.
I have lived away from Milton for five years now, and I can tell you that you should have nothing but pride in the town. Some of that pride should come from the fact that the crime rate IS low, and you can thank the Milton Police Department for their efforts.
Linda St. Peter
(St. Peter previously lived in Milton. She has family in town and subscribes to the paper.)