We need a robust assessment on Holyoke’s public safety needs. I want to fully understand what we do well and where we can be better. Issues around the police, fire, building department, abandoned buildings, and the quality of our parks are the priorities I look forward to addressing on the topic of public safety so that we are providing the best possible services expected and minimizing liability. It’s important for me to assess internal operations of the departments to understand the service needs and recognize where the gaps are so that we can develop a better plan to address.
My experience involves investigating creative ways to improve service efficiency with attention to budget constraints, public safety, and statutory obligations. Just to share a few examples:
At the Town of Blandford, we leveraged state resources to explore and analyze options for improving police services and we did so collaboratively with a nearby Town. We retained a consultant to perform the study and had been tasked with reviewing the operations of both police departments to assess potential benefits or obstacles associated with consolidation or sharing of personnel, facilities, or equipment. They reviewed data regarding calls for service, staffing, scheduling, and budgets from both police departments. They also conducted fieldwork, meeting with the Chief of Police, Town Administrators, and elected officials, as well as visiting the Towns’ police facilities and touring both towns. These review efforts enabled us to develop a preliminary understanding of the areas served by the two police departments, the desired levels of service from the perspectives of both staff and elected officials, the financial constraints within which the Towns operate, and the challenges faced by the departments. The result were several recommendations aimed at providing both municipalities with options for full or partial consolidation of police departments or sharing of services. The two Town’s implemented the recommendations.
Additionally, as Fire Commissioner in Holyoke, collaboratively with the experts at the Fire Department, we assessed the internal operations and strategically redeployed existing resources to improve safety for firefighters and the public while minimizing excessive overtime use. The redeployment increased coverage at each truck and engine by 15% more, increased number of firefighters for initial response areas, strengthened the city’s web of coverage, and saved the city about a half of million dollars.