5 QUICK QUESTIONS with Wilmingtons New Police Chief Joe Desmond PART 2

first_imgWILMINGTON, MA — Wilmington Apple recently caught up with Wilmington Police Chief Joe Desmond, who was appointed to the position on Monday, July 15.Below is part two of a two-part interview. (Read part one HERE.)Question #1: In Town Manager Hull’s initial FY2020 budget, he had budgeted for 4 new police officers, with the hope of adding an additional 4 down the road, allowing for the creation of a fourth police sector in town. Those plans were placed on hold, in part, over staffing needs of the Fire Department. The Police Department hasn’t seen a new officer position added since FY2008. Will the Police Department be getting some new staffing in the near future?Chief: “We think so. There’s only one pie. The Finance Committee has a difficult job to do in picking which priorities to fund each year. I helped Chief Begonis with that staffing plan. We’re certainly willing to work with the Finance Committee and come up with solutions. I think with our responsibilities and the advent of defibrillators and Narcan, the more people we have out on the street, the quicker our response can be. The town is a wonderful town, but because it’s so wonderful, it’s growing rapidly, and we want to be able to maintain the level of service we always do. With that, we’ll need more men, and that unfortunately costs money.”Question #2: Do you think the School Resource Officer program will be expanded to the lower schools? Chief: “Like with anything else, you want to prioritize with the staffing levels that you have. We’ve always felt that an officer in the schools is a very valuable thing. I think the schools will back that up. They rely on us heavily. Our school resource officers get phone calls asking for advice on how to deal with certain things. DARE has taken a back seat as some studies have shown it wasn’t getting a bang for its buck. I certainly look forward to looking at things to see if there is a place for another school resource officer.Question #3: Do you ever see the K9 program being brought back?Chief: “That was a very successful program, but that’s one of those things where you have to pay for the main course before you can get dessert. Unfortunately, until we can offer the necessary staffing levels, it would be difficult to do that at this point because of the training involved. Once we pick a K9 officer, it’s a 6 month training and then more specialized drug training. That officer off the line for awhile. The answer is YES, we look forward to looking at the possibility of getting that back because it was so successful. Eric Palmer was great at it. The dogs he had were fantastic. And it helps the reputation of this police deparmtent in many ways, not only community outreach but actual law enforcement.”Question #4: How do you feel the Department is doing combating the opioid epidemic and helping those struggling with addiction and their families? Chief: “We’ve hired Samantha Reif and she’s been outstanding. We’re seeing the number of overdoses go down. You have to analyze those numbers and peel back the onion — are the OD’s really going down or is the advent of Narcan just preventing the OD’s? We’re encouraged by the direction the numbers are going, but we can’t let our guard down. We have a comprehensive plan to deal with opioids. Samantha, unfortunately, will always be busy. We can’t forget about alcohol. Alcohol is the #1 drug addiction issue that we see. We’re making progress with the opioids and we need to continue. And a lot of people addicted to drugs have duel diagnoses – they have something else going on. Samantha can assist with mental health issues as well.”Question #5: What are your thoughts on the town’s solution of building a temporary platform at North Wilmington station so emergency vehicles aren’t delayed when trains are stopped and the gates are down?Chief: “We appreciate everything our state officials have done to expedite this. There a lot of communities out there that have needs relative to trains and platforms. Moving in the direction of a new platform is great for us. All it takes is one call — if that gates are down and the fire department can’t get through there – even though it doesn’t happen often — it only takes once. We look forward to resolving the issue.”Bonus Question: You currently have two student officers – Sousa and Fitzgerald. How are they doing in their training and when will they officially join the force?Chief: “They’re about halfway through [the academy] and will graduate in the fall. Then they start a 12-week FTO (Field Training Officer) program. From my understanding, they’re both doing well and are great candidates. We’re excited to get them out there. I’m sure they’re excited too. We can count them as manpower after their FTO program.”Bonus Question: Officers Paul Chalifour and Louis Martignetti are retiring in the coming months. Any thoughts on their careers with the WPD?Chief: “I’ve worked my entire career with Paul. Paul was here before me. I’ve worked about 90% of my career with Louie. They’re both great guys. I wish them well. I guess there’s a time when you know it’s time to go. Paul is currently our Community Liaison Officer. That was a new position that Chief Begonis started and it’s one I’m going to continue because it’s a really great point person to deal with community issues as they arise — kinda of like a rapid response position. Louie is a very hard worker. Always professional. Always polite. I’m going to miss them both.”Look for 5 questions with Wilmington’s new Finance Director Bryan Perry tomorrow on Wilmington Apple.Like Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email wilmingtonapple@gmail.com.Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… Related5 QUICK QUESTIONS with Wilmington’s New Police Chief Joe Desmond (PART 1)In “5 Quick Questions”Wilmington Police Chief Joe Desmond & Deputy Police Chief Brian Pupa Sworn InIn “Police Log”SELECTMEN NEWS: Board Supports Fire & Police Substation In North Wilmington; Town To Vote On Project In April 2020?In “Government”last_img

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