Growing needs for Southwick police

SOUTHWICK – A new full-time police officer and full-time dispatcher highlighted the proposed police budget presented to the Southwick Select Board last night.
Police Chief Mark Krynicki said another officer is a necessity. Now, two officers are assigned per shift. When a full-time officer is not  available, the shifts are filled with reserves or overtime is used. Krynicki said two officers per shift are no longer enough.
“The population of the town has increased, the number of calls has  increased, and I think our minimum manning should be at least three (officers),” said Krynicki.
The $46,306 salary for the proposed officer would come from fines and fees already collected by the department. He said the police receive about $100,000 annually in fines, fees and traffic  citations. Krynicki said with two officers per shift, there are many times they  are tied up at the same time, such as during an arrest or domestic  call, and the town is not properly covered. Krynicki said hiring a full-time officer will actually save the town  in overtime pay. Right now, he said the department spends approximately $60,000 in overtime pay.
The board gave Krynicki a directive to prepare budget scenarios with zero, five and 10 percent operational cuts. Krynicki said last night that he could not do that.
“I’ll be honest, I can’t take any more cuts in operations,” he said.
Instead, Krynicki cut $17,000 from the capital budget. This year’s capital budget includes nearly $60,000 for new administrative vehicles and a marked SUV. Krynicki said he is looking at a new Ford SUV and Taurus as replacement vehicles. He added that looking ahead to next year, the  department will likely need two cruisers.
Krynicki is seeking a fourth full-time dispatcher, which would be paid mostly with a $27,000 grant from 911 cell phone fees. He said another dispatcher is needed and with a fourth person, he would not need a dispatcher supervisor, a position he previously discussed hiring. He also added $1,000 to the dispatch budget for training. The proposed budget includes $4,000 for two new portable  defibrillators that would be mounted inside cruisers.
“We have three now and they get banged up when they’re brought in and out of the building and in the floor of the cars,” said Krynicki.
Another request is not new to the police budget process – a microwave  radio system.
“For the past four years I’ve requested this,” Krynicki said. “One of  the biggest complaints I get is about the radio system.” The new system would incorporate the police and fire departments and make them compatible with the system used by the Department of Public Works.
Krynicki said he tried to level fund most areas and “tried to keep it  at what we want and need.”

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