McNamara: No ‘crime problem’ in Cavendish Weathersfield area policing plan fails to gain traction

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2018 Telegraph Publishing LLC

There is no “crime problem” in Cavendish, said Town Manager Brendan McNamara at last night’s meeting of the town’s Select Board. “The article (in The Eagle Times) did not portray Cavendish accurately,” he added.

The article, “Weathersfield may provide police service to Cavendish, Baltimore” published in the Dec. 4 edition, quoted Weathersfield Town Manager Ed Morris as saying that “… Cavendish has a crime problem and needs the help.” While the article points to 228 calls to the Vermont State Police between May and December, it does not say what the calls were for.

At last night’s meeting, McNamara told the board that between Dec. 1, 2017 and Dec. 1 of this year, Vermont State Police responded to 378 calls from Cavendish. Of those calls, according to McNamara, about 25 were for crimes such as burglary (1), assault (4) and theft (12). Most of the calls were for matters like 911 hangups (25), agency assist (21), alarm (25), citizen assist (37), directed patrol (21), motor vehicle complaint (25), suspicious person (43) and welfare check (19). Motor vehicle accidents were also included in those totals.

The lack of a crime wave on its western border notwithstanding, Morris and Weathersfield Police Chief William Daniels, have proposed to hire additional help for Weathersfield’s Police Department to patrol Cavendish and Baltimore. Select Board minutes from Weathersfield’s Nov. 19 and Dec. 3 meetings paint a less-than-clear picture about whether Baltimore and Cavendish want the service or have even responded to the Weathersfield’s proposal. Even so, minutes show that Weathersfield board members were concerned with granular issues like whether Cavendish would provide space for an officer to work and a restroom.

Town Manager Brendan McNamara explaining the proposal the town received from Weathersfield. Photo by Shawn Cunningham

At its Dec. 3 meeting, the Weathersfield board unanimously authorized Morris to put the revenue and expense for the program into the town’s budget. According to the minutes of the meeting, the arrangement will start in July, if the voters approve the budget.

At the Cavendish board meeting last night, McNamara said that he had received a proposal for policing by a Weathersfield officer for 25 hours per week for $84,000 per year or $65 per hour. Currently, the town pays $18,000 per year for the Windsor County Sheriff to do traffic patrols for 12 hours per week or $28.85 per hour.

“They gave us a proposal,” said McNamara. “Is it something we are looking at attacking right now? No.”

“But whether it’s in six months or six years, police coverage is going to have to be addressed,” said McNamara, noting that the Vermont State Police are having recruiting problems that make covering towns more difficult, “and having information is better than not having it.”

Baltimore Select Board chair Walter Rich told The Telegraph that Weathersfield Police gave his board a presentation and a proposal with two choices. The town could contract for five hours per week for $16,900 per year or eight hours for $27,040. Each proposal included 1.5 hours for “calls” with the remainder going to traffic control. These prices also work out to $65 per hour.

Rich said that the town would put the question to the voters at Town Meeting along with the 2020 budget.

“Whether we become involved in something like this would be up to the voters,” said Rich.

But if those voters say they are interested in hiring such policing, Rich feels Baltimore should ask for proposals from other neighboring towns including Springfield, which currently covers their firefighting needs.

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