Got a problem, an emergency who you going to call? GhostBusters? In all reality the answer more often than not is the police. Do you expect them answer the call and arrive at your home in a matter of moments, ready to act? What’s it worth to you at that very moment?
Recently the Coventry Police Department submitted their budget to the Town Council for approval. Included in that budget was a request for the authorization to add and additional officer to the force. The first response from some citizens was to question the need. What do we need more police for we’re a small town?
The facts were put forth by Police Chief Mark Palmer and they were compelling and convincing. Several years ago an additional officer was added to provide at least two officers on patrol at any one time. That additional officer in the minds of some was not needed. In their world one officer on a shift at a time was satisfactory but the Republican majority on the Town Council at that time authorized an additional officer.
It was the right decision to make. No officer should patrol without back-up, not in this day and age, not in the world we live in today. The job they do can escalate from a placid calm to a life threatening crisis in a flash.
Our police officers are well paid, and receive a good benefits package but that does not compensate them for another part of the job that citizens do not see. A police force works 24 hours a day 7 days a week and when thing happen it has become all to frequent for the officers in Coventry to be “ordered-in”. When the “order-in” call comes it is not an option they must drop what they are doing and answer the call. Recently two officers worked a 24 hour shift under such conditions. Why does this happen?
Not all officers are available at all times, some are sick, in court, on vacation or even on extended medical leave, it happens, it happens to them just like it can happen to you. In police work you also have critical situations arise when an additional call for back-up must be answered. They are not super human they can not handle every task alone.
One area often overlooked is the vacation time officers earn and deserve like any other employees. We have been fortunate to have little turnover on the force but we now also face the issue of longer vacation periods. This adds to the need for an additional officer, it is a reality of life.
The quality of life in Coventry is the reason many of us have chosen to live in the community. We like the quiet atmosphere, the rural nature and the safe environment in which we live. We can be thankful for those things and what they bring to our family lives. We should be equally mindful of our police officers and their family lives. They are asking for an additional officer to provide coverage that will greatly reduce “ordered-in” time. It is not an unreasonable request and it may even reduce some overtime payments. So what is the position of the current Town Council?
The Town Council rejected the request for an additional officer to be hired next year. It would have added less than $25,000 to the proposed budget. A budget of more than $35,000,000 a budget in which they set aside $30,000 in a reserve account without any specific use other than to have money available in the future to use toward the purchase of open space. (How much land can you buy for $30,000 in Coventry?) What the police asked for in the grand scheme of things is a drop in the bucket, or small change when you consider we are spending over THIRTY FIVE MILLION DOLLARS.
The Town Council could have easily eliminated $25,000 from other areas if their priorities were for public safety and the welfare of our police officers. Last time an additional officer was requested the Town Council did the right thing. This time they failed, they failed to protect the community, they failed to protect the officers, and they failed to spend our taxpayer’s dollars wisely.
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