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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Calls to Charlestown Police jump in January

Near summertime peak loads
The kind of problem you don't want to see
By Will Collette

The workload on the Charlestown Police force jumped significantly in January, according to new statistics from CPD Chief Jack Shippee.

In January, officers responded to 1141 calls, almost 40 a day on average.

Calls climbed by 200 from December. Compared to January last year, officers took 300 more calls.

Charlestown Police usually see this high number of calls for help during the peak summer months of July and August when the number of people in Charlestown in any given day can be triple our winter population.

Charlestown Police Chief Jack Shippee didn’t know why the number of calls spiked, but remarks that his officers have been working very hard.

Police statistics showed increases in most other categories as well – more accidents, arrests and domestic disputes. Accidents were up 37.5% over December. Arrests were up by 68%.

Charlestown police made 11% more traffic stops, but issued the same number of tickets.

I also discussed the status of the town’s plan to install red light cameras at our Route One stop lights. The Chief said that the town plans to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) soon, and hopes this will attract vendors that will satisfy the interests of public safety with Charlestown’s notorious fiscal conservatism (unless, of course, it’s open space we’re buying).

I told Chief Shippee about my experiences in the DC Metro area where there was a marked decrease in red-light running and serious red-light related accidents after cameras were installed.

The Chief told me that this was the result he hopes for in Charlestown – that the presence of cameras would change behavior and make people less likely to run the lights. He noted that a reduction in red-light running would, of course, cut the revenue from the citations, but that saving lives was more important.

The Charlestown Police union, the Fraternal Order of Police, are currently in contract negotiations with the town. I wish them the best of luck and hope they get a good contract.