5-Year Plan

Introduction:

The five year plan is a written instrument that explains the goals and direction of the Barre Police Department in a manner that is clearly defined and measurable.

Law enforcement is designed to meet ever-changing societal needs so that communities are well served and order is maintained.  A municipal police department is an integral partner with its community and relies upon a good relationship to fulfill its mission.  Sir Robert Peel’s Principles of Law Enforcement (1829) refers to cooperation as a cornerstone of successful policing.  Senator Robert Kennedy, while serving as the Attorney General of the United States (1964), stated, “Every society gets the kind of criminal it deserves. What is equally true is that every community gets the kind of law enforcement it insists on.”

In accordance with these fundamental principles, we believe that the people of the Town of Barre have a voice in determining what their police department should look like in five years.  To this end we incorporated the input from a focus group of approximately thirty residents who represented a cross section of the community.  We also conducted an anonymous survey of officers.  Each group was asked to address what they viewed as the strengths and weaknesses of our department.  The views of various political bodies (including the Board of Selectmen and the Finance Committee), which had been made known through forums such as town meetings, personnel searches and budget workshops, were included as well.  The final piece of the process was the consideration of new trends and technology as practical solutions to current needs.

Challenges and Solutions:

Issue:  High turn-over rate among police officers.

Explanation of the problem:

The current average (mean) length of service of the 9 full time officers is 3.62 years with a range of 1 month to 8 ½ years.  The median length of service is 5 years while the mode is also 5 years. The average (mean) length of service of the 5 part time officers is 1.93 years with a range of 4 months to 8 years.  The median length of service is 4 months while the mode is also 4 months.  This lack of longevity amongst Barre Police Officers is an issue that must be solved.  Departments benefit from retaining experienced officers.  Communities desire a department staffed with officers who have a connection to the town, something that is largely developed over time.  Low morale can be blamed for much of this high rate of early departure.  Low morale is a catch-all that comes from a variety of factors.  We have identified low pay, the perception of inconsistent/outdated/unfair policies or policy application, lack of career opportunities, little or no professional recognition, lack of clear expectations, an outdated internal structure and inadequate opportunities for input from the officers as the major causes of low departmental morale.

Solution:

  • Change the pay scale of officers, within the boundaries of the collective bargaining agreement, so that it is competitive with neighboring agencies and arranged in a manner more conducive to the retention of new officers. Increase the incoming rate of pay above the probationary/entry level for officers who have already graduated from a police academy and are interested in beginning a career in Barre.
  • Institute a more objective, less adversarial, process for grievances from both officers and the public. This will foster an environment in which problems can be addressed in a manner that is consistent, fair and swift.
  • Modify the rank structure so that there is a clear and unambiguous chain of command with defined expectations, authorities and duties. Use ranks that properly recognize the level of responsibility expected of the officers.  Base promotion between ranks on well-established criteria that removes personal bias and offers all officers an equal opportunity based on effort, skill and achievement.
  • Foster a professional atmosphere which projects outwardly and is well-received by the public as well as other law enforcement agencies. This includes, but is not limited to, conduct and appearance.
  • Create an impartial awards system that regularly recognizes outstanding effort by members of the department. Include the public in celebrating the achievements of officers as well as other events that serve as milestones to the department.
  • Build incentives that encourage officers to serve as members of the Barre Police Department for the entirety of their careers. Other than merely financial offerings, create and sustain specialized assignments that offer career satisfaction while also improving the capabilities of the department.
  • Establish events and practices that are more inclusive of an officer’s family. Recognize the sacrifices required by family members.  Practice inclusion rather than exclusion as it relates to family members.

Issue:  An increasing drug problem.

Explanation of the problem:

The Town of Barre is suffering the same problem of opioid addiction that has devastated the Commonwealth.  We recognize that the targets of our enforcement efforts are not specifically those who have become trapped in addiction.  For those individuals we support treatment remedies while also realizing that we must protect the community, and the addicted person, from reckless behavior associated with the illegal use of drugs.  Those who deal in the illegal sale and transportation of drugs are another story.  It is our belief that we must stop the suppliers and keep the flow of illegal drugs out of Barre.  By eliminating the source we will encourage those who are addicted to seek treatment.  Barre is at the hub of numerous state ways.  Increased motor vehicle enforcement will be the centerpiece of our efforts.  In order to accomplish this goal our officers need the proper tools and training.

Solution:

  • Establish a K-9 program with a dog that is cross trained in narcotics detection. Provide the team with equipment, including a specially outfitted cruiser.
  • Incorporate a standardized training program of those courses that directly address the enforcement of laws regarding Operating While Under the Influence of Drugs (OUI). Reinforce the efforts of our Drug Recognition Expert with Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) and Advanced Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing training for each officer.
  • Obtain advanced field detection equipment available for substance analysis and make it available to all patrol officers.

Issue:  A lack of involvement with youth and the schools.

Explanation of the problem:

The Town of Barre is fortunate to be home to the Quabbin Regional High School, an excellent multi-faceted educational institution and a favored location for those exercising their option of school choice.  Additionally, Quabbin Junior High School and Ruggles Lane Elementary School are active centers of learning.  The reality is that, as rational adults, we are concerned with the possibility of violence and drugs finding their way into our schools.  The Barre Police Department has always been a partner to the schools but we can, and should, do more.  The concept of a School Resource Officer (SRO) program is well vetted in law enforcement.  An SRO, while serving fully in his/her capacity as a law enforcement officer, is able to build an important relationship with youth that extends to the rest of the department.

Solution:

  • Establish a School Resource Officer program in which a specially trained officer is assigned to the three local public schools on a permanent basis.
  • Establish a youth version of a Citizens Police Academy.
  • Work with the school administration to create a program reminiscent of DARE but tailored to our community.

Issue:  A lack of interaction with the community.

Explanation of the problem:

The Town of Barre recently experienced certain political tensions in which the Police Department was a central figure.  Unfortunately, communities are subject to such problems from time to time.  The town managed the issues and has since moved forward.  Among the results of the process is a perception of division within the department and separation of officers from the community.  Residents have voiced a desire for more interaction with their officers and would like the officers to be more visible.  People are interested in knowing more about the department, both in terms of day-to-day occurrences as well as gaining a better overall understanding of operations.

Solution:

  • Begin an annual community event, such as a picnic or barbeque, hosted by the Barre Police Department for the residents.
  • Establish an annual Citizens Police Academy for residents and local business persons.
  • Assign a Public Information officer whose duty shall be to disseminate, via social and news media, items of interest that will help keep the community more in touch with the actions of our department.
  • Re-establish the use of a bicycle patrol for certain public events.

Issue:  Officer Safety.

Explanation of the problem:

The allotted manpower of the Barre Police Department (9 full-time officers and 6 part-time officers) is such that the department must be at full staff in order to properly cover all shifts.  Training a replacement can take up to one year.  Barre Officers have stepped up time and time again to make the best of continual shortages by working alone.  From a safety standpoint we would prefer to avoid such instances.  While addressing turn over issues (see above) we also need to build our numbers so that we can better absorb a retirement or resignation.  It is not fiscally feasible to add full-time staff; therefore the solution lies in an increased number of part-time officers.

Solution:

  • Increase the part-time staffing level above six.
  • Create a schedule that, through use of part-time officers, places two officers on each shift.
  • Recruit, with the assistance of a scholarship if available, men and women from this area for development as part-time officers in order to increase the likelihood of retention and provide a larger base of full-time candidates in the event of an opening.

Issue:  Inadequate training after academy graduation.

Explanation of the problem:

Officers are required to be proficient in a number of specialized skills such as OUI enforcement, crime scene processing and interview/interrogation.  Continual in-service training courses following academy graduation is essential to the development of these skills.  Currently officers receive in-service training that covers basic legal and tactical updates but does not develop specialized skills.  When an officer does attend a specialized class, he may be the only member of the department therefore the skill set of each officer is markedly different.  All officers should be trained in each of the main specialized areas so that the highest level of service can be provided to the community regardless of which officers are on duty when a need arises.

Solution:

  • Develop a standardized training plan that identifies the advanced skills most needed by line officers in the performance of their duties. The plan will focus on specific critical areas and provide for periodic re-evaluation so as to remain current.
  • Task a training officer with overseeing the training plan and assuring that each officer receives the full curriculum.
  • Arrange to have training conducted in Barre whenever possible so as to maximize standardization and applicability.

Issue:  Key pieces of equipment are outdated and/or in poor condition.

Explanation of the problem:

Officers rely on their equipment to provide an advantage over the criminal element.  Response capability, efficiency and safety are enhanced when an officer is afforded reliable tools and current technology.  After a review of the department, a number of key equipment issues have been identified that shall be addressed.

Solution:

  • Obtain a Live Scan device that will allow officers to utilize the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) to expedite the issuance of License to Carry permits and vastly improve our ability to process arrestees.
  • Upgrade handguns due to the length of service of our current model.
  • Upgrade shotguns to a model more compatible with the demands of police use.
  • Upgrade current Conducted Electrical Weapons (CEW). Our current Taser model, while effective, is no longer supported.
  • Upgrade fleet to cruisers that are designed for police use and can better handle the extreme snow conditions of Barre.
  • Standardize the equipment, most specifically mobile data terminals, so that each cruiser is fully outfitted.

Conclusion:

The strength of the Barre Police Department is found in the quality of its officers and the support we receive from the community.  Were either of these areas lacking any corrective plan would be far more difficult to implement.  While there are a number of problems addressed herein, none of the solutions are beyond our reach.  The plan will be reviewed on an annual basis, and reported publicly, to ensure proper progress towards implementation.  Given the history of the cooperation that the Barre Police Department has received and the level of enthusiasm both internally and externally, we are confident that we will be able to achieve all of these improvements within the next five years.

Respectfully,

Chief John F. Carbone