Chief of Police discusses proposed FY20 budget

SOUTHWICK – Chief of Police Kevin Bishop had a meeting with the Select Board this week to discuss his preliminary proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2020.

According to Bishop, a priority in the Southwick Police Department’s budget this year is to create a position for a dispatch supervisor. Since both the police and fire departments co-share the dispatch center for emergency calls, Bishop indicated his request to the Select Board at the budget hearing had support from Fire Chief Russ Anderson.

“I would say, at this point in time, one of the biggest things that myself and the fire chief are requesting is a dispatch supervisor for the dispatch center,” said Bishop.

The reason behind the request comes from a management study previously done on the Southwick Police Department’s current dispatch center with the assessment suggesting that a supervisor position be created to help further organize and strengthen that aspect of the department.

According to Bishop, duties for a dispatch supervisor would include training, scheduling dispatchers, radio procedures, being responsible for seeking grant opportunities for the dispatch center, and other tasks. Bishop requested $56,000 in the budget in order to provide a full-time salary for the position.

Select Board Chairman Joe Deedy asks Chief of Police Kevin Bishop about the preliminary FY19 budget. (Photo by Greg Fitzpatrick)

Another line item in the preliminary budget is a request to continue a weapons maintenance program. Bishop is seeking additional funding to continue to maintain the patrol rifles and shotguns that are held in the patrol cruisers. Bishop added that some of the weapons are 15-years-old and older, but not all of the weapons are used while officers are on duty, they also need to be maintained for trainings.

A larger proposed item in the budget is installing a brand-new phone and Wi-Fi system in the police department. Bishop noted that the department has never had Wi-Fi and having it would be a tremendous benefit for all operations that occur within the department on a daily basis. The installation of the Wi-Fi is expected to cost $14,806.86 and the new phone system would be $8,772.00.

In Bishop’s preliminary budget, he explained why installing Wi-Fi would be beneficial to the department.

“At this time each cruiser is equipped with a laptop. Any time a laptop has to be updated our computer administrator has to remove each laptop and physically bring it inside to update. Having WI/FI would allow each cruiser to be driven inside and updated quickly with no wasted man hours.  It would allow us to take our laptops anywhere in the building to complete work assignments, and make presentations without having Officers find network jacks or network cables.  The addition of WI/FI into our department would greatly improve our services to the public because, as it stands now, they lose access to the internet and cellular phone service once they enter the building. We would set up a public usage side to the WI/Fi system which would help the Officer when conducting an interview.”

Bishop also had a written statement in his budget for the positive impact a new phone system would have on the department.

“The present phone system is outdated and we are experiencing numerous failures within the system and the phones themselves can no longer be purchased as they have long passed their end of life use.  The present company no longer stocks parts for our phone system and when parts are needed they have been removing parts from old used phones. Besides the benefit of a more improved reliable phone system, another benefit is that this phone system will interconnect with the town hall and fire department thus allowing for direct extension calling and transfer of calls between departments”   

The rest of the budget consists of routine items that are requested in the budget every year, including two new cruisers, community policing, software, and minor equipment.

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