Sick and tired: FPD overworked, says union president

May 19, 2013 | Posted by: roboblogger | Full story: Sentinel & Enterprise

The city's police are understaffed, overworked and unhappy that Mayor Lisa Wong does not intend to fill two anticipated retirement vacancies in fiscal 2014, according to police union President Officer Keith Bourne.

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Lynch for Mayor

Fitchburg, MA

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May 21, 2013
 

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Sick and tired: FPD overworked, says union president

By Alana Melanson, amelanson@sentinelandenterpris e.com

Posted: 05/19/2013 06:37:40 AM EDT

FITCHBURG -- The city's police are understaffed, overworked and unhappy that Mayor Lisa Wong does not intend to fill two anticipated retirement vacancies in fiscal 2014, according to police union President Officer Keith Bourne.

"The guys are too proud to lay down. In my opinion, that's why the streets appear to be in good shape," Bourne said. "We have a well-trained police force and the guys are proud, but they're tired. We're looking for reinforcements, and we keep on being told we don't need them."

He said the diminishing number of officers has been handling a call volume that increases each year, which has led to exhaustion and an increased number of on-the-job injuries. At one point last year, Bourne said, four officers were out with injuries. He himself was out for nine months last year.

"You have a whole bunch of officers who should be in senior positions but are reduced to being in patrol cars, and they respond to one call after another," Bourne said. "The scanner is always going."

The Fitchburg police force is aging, Bourne said. The average age in the department is 44, and another 13 officers are expected to retire over the next seven years, he said.

"Within 10 years, we're virtually going to have to replace at least a third of the department with retirements," Bourne said. "We need more young bodies trained and out on the streets."

He said the union sat down with Wong during the winter to discuss the matter and how staff

reductions over the last few years have taken a toll on the membership, and heard agreement from her that staffing levels were too low. Bourne said Wong verbally agreed at the time to hire the new people and had four lined up earlier this year, but decided against one at the last minute. At the end of February, the city appointed three student police officers, who are currently attending the training academy, to address two retirements and a resignation during the current fiscal year. When the student officers are fully ready to join the department, a senior officer will become the school resource officer at Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School.
Wong has pointed to increased use of technology as allowing police to do more with less, but Bourne argues that the technology is also allowing criminals to get away with more, especially with less police presence. He said drug crimes are increasingly being conducted through cellphones and other electronic communications. With only five officers in marked patrol cars out on the streets at any given time, offenses are more easily committed, he said.

Bourne said this is making the department more reactive than proactive. Officers respond to calls for service rather than walking neighborhood streets to deter drug transactions or patrolling for property crimes and house breaks, he said.

"Having an increased presence alone can deter criminal activity in neighborhoods, whether it's groups of kids engaging to meet in a fight, increased presence to prevent drug transactions, trafficking and prostitution, or prevent graffiti, which is springing up everywhere," Bourne said.

Wong said Friday she doesn't enjoy having to make tough decisions, but the precarious financial situation of the city leaves her little choice.

"I don't like my response either," she said. "Of course it would be wonderful to hire more people, add hours to the Senior Center and library, and turn on the rest of the streetlights. But the city is facing almost $4 million a year in (other post-employment benefit) costs, which includes existing police and retired police officers."

She said she has asked the state Department of Revenue, which reviewed city finances in 2008, to come back and offer recommendations on how the city can be more financially stable.
Lynch for Mayor

Fitchburg, MA

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May 21, 2013
 

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Wow, what a mess!!!!!!! Thanks Conry!!!!! One of many who rubber stamped EVERY police contract instead of making changes.

Bourne has been out for nine months? What happened?

The Mayor will change her position on replacing the two when election comes and then she will not replace them when she is elected.

These two should be replace but replaced in a NEEDED shift.

Lets be honest the FPD never walked the beat which I feel is needed. I think that the entire FPD administration should have to walk the beat, enter into every business to say hello.

"With only five officers in marked patrol cars out on the streets at any given time, offenses are more easily committed, he said."

"
"You have a whole bunch of officers who should be in senior positions but are reduced to being in patrol cars, and they respond to one call after another," Bourne said. "The scanner is always going."

Officer Bourne, we cannot add a "bunch of officers" into the empty potential office space at the headquarters. I agree that we need more officers but we do not need any more do nothing positions!!

And some of those sergeants should be demoted.

After reading this article I only fear for a return to the old heroin pit of Fitchburg.

I warned others that certain officers were moving up the scales that shouldn't even be on the force. Well, hopefully they retire and do not move up!

The last contract should of been negotiated. Tell the FPD that they will receive more officers but none are going on first shift. We need to address crime not comfortibility.

Thank God for the State and Federal authorities of Fitchburg would be uninhabitable. And Yes the FPD has been working harder as well but they can only do so much with so little.

The city council is on cloud nine!!! They all feel so glad to have 4 million in reserve no matter if Fitchburg rotts! Yes, they have failed!!

They all got mad at me because I speak the truth! When you mention the trash system they all marvel at the new clean looking barrels; but if they bothered to actually walk the streets of Fitchburg then they would see the trash building up in yards.

One person benefited by the new trash system or 5 and they are ALL CEOS at waste management!!!!! Their profits are way up and their costs have decreased significantly.

Has anyone smelled that new smell after the big rain??????
Lynch for Mayor

Fitchburg, MA

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May 21, 2013
 

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Reread this quote!!!

""You have a whole bunch of officers who should be in senior positions but are reduced to being in patrol cars, and they respond to one call after another," Bourne said. "The scanner is always going.""

Oh boy, thank you God that Conry and others have left.

"reduced to being in patrol cars"???? Can someone please ask him two questions. One being does he think this is double talk? And another, What does a "senior position" entail????

Oh my God!!! God, help us!!! Let me ask a question, does the FPD have a budget item for stacks of Suduko mags??

Seriously, what does a "senior position" entail??? The city council should of had it written in that the "seniors" in the FPD to complete at least 20 hrs a week of foot patrols.

Put these "seniors" in the FPD in the citizens on patrol cars at the least!!! But as Bourne states , "we wouldn't want to insult them and have them doing police work"!!!!!

And as all these Senior officers get forced to retire the city increases their future pension amounts and then bitches about the increases that they implemented??????

Yes, Mayor Wong, now I believe you that you ate breakfast every morning with Conry!!!!!
Lynch for Mayor

Fitchburg, MA

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#5
May 21, 2013
 

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So we should give them higher salaries before retirement.

We are going to place one of these "seniors" at the voke school so they can enjoy the awesome cuisine that these students chef up??

When I say rubber stamp results this is what I mean!!!

No negotiations just a Texas hug and a Koom ba ya sing along at the dinner party!!!

How about Zero assistant Chiefs? How about Zero Captains??? How about One Lt???? How about dismissing some sgts?

The Chief and the Lt should be mandated to foot patrols going into every store in Fitchburg.

So, we are going to put an Lt in the Voke school??????????

God Help Fitchburg!!! If this keeps up the feds and the state police are going to pull out of Fitchburg!!!!

Skip the placement of an Lt at the voke and offer field trips to the FPD from the voke!!!!!!
Lynch for Mayor

Fitchburg, MA

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May 21, 2013
 

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How about the city council to have a "pull your head out of your ass" event!

This is why 90% of eligible voters do not even cast their votes!!!

If only we could convince this 90% to cast their votes just ONE time so we can get to cleaning this "RUBBER STAMP" MESS!!!!!!!!!!
Lynch for Mayor

Fitchburg, MA

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#7
May 21, 2013
 

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Let me ask while you scan these blogs! Was any FPD official out with a bad leg????

Rollstone

Buzzards Bay, MA

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#8
May 21, 2013
 
Lynch for Mayor wrote:
Let me ask while you scan these blogs! Was any FPD official out with a bad leg????
But you and the FBI started this investigation months ago. No progress?
Wickedguy

Fitchburg, MA

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#9
May 22, 2013
 
Lynch for Mayor wrote:
How about the city council to have a "pull your head out of your ass" event!
This is why 90% of eligible voters do not even cast their votes!!!
If only we could convince this 90% to cast their votes just ONE time so we can get to cleaning this "RUBBER STAMP" MESS!!!!!!!!!!
And you are?.........

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