|June 7, 2007
police savings to remain just that
GOFFSTOWN - At
Monday's board of selectmen meeting, selectmen voted 3-1
(Phil D'Avanza against, John Caprio absent) to deny
Police Chief Michael French's request to use savings
from a recent reorganization of his department to hire three
new police officers.
Earlier this year, French had put together a committee
to study various ways the department might deal with the upcoming
retirements of Mark Young, dispatcher Sue Lebel and
Capt. Glenn Dubois.
The committee’s recommendations were to: 1) provide an accessible captain at all times,
and 2) create two staff divisions within the department,
each to be commanded by a
lieutenant: an Operational division and a Support division.
The Operations division would be responsible for reports, evidence, schedules, training, the explorers, crossing guards, details/extra duty and the Animal Control Officer. The Support division
would be responsible for quartermaster duties, the fleet, IT, recruitment and selection, crime analysis, accreditation, grants, programs, and auxiliaries.
As French told the board earlier this year, the reorganization
plan involved reassignment of duties, internal
promotions and shifting of existing personnel. The
result actually reduced the
number of in-house personnel needed for the department
to continue to run efficiently and eliminated the need to
fill the vacancies left by Young, Lebel and DuBois.
longer needing to hire three replacements,
French then asked selectmen for permission to use the
resulting savings to hire three new full-time patrol
officers and one part-time officer instead.
Selectman Phil D'Avanza apparently disagreed with the
Chief's reorganization plan, stating that without hiring three new
officers to patrol the streets, French's plan would
fail. "I don't think he (French) can just do
the command structure (changes) and not have the
D'Avanza did not appear to understand that French's own
plan called for funding the new patrol officers with the
savings that would be realized by French's staff
reorganization, internal promotions and shifting of
duties and responsibilities, all accomplished without
hiring replacements for the three retirees.
But the rest of the board saw things differently, and
perhaps more clearly.
Selectman Nick Campasano viewed the savings windfall as
monies that should be returned to the taxpayers rather
than spent on hiring additional officers. He,
along with selectmen Scott Gross and Vivian Blondeau
also questioned the need for those officers.
Said Gross, "What's the impetus for bringing on
three more police officers?" He also pointed
out that if there is a good business case for hiring
three new patrol officers, then that case needed to be
brought before the selectmen, the budget committee and
most likely the public, as the current process in
Goffstown calls for.
"I would think he (French) would want to do this
re-organization with his command structure regardless of
whether he got 1, 2, or 3 additional patrol
In the past, Caprio has expressed the same opinion as
those of Campasano, Gross and Blondeau.
Campasano countered D'Avanza's argument by discussing
the police department's own organization charts.
"I have the two organizational charts here, and the
patrol officers end with one box: 'Patrol Officers', in
(both) the old organizational chart and the new
organizational chart," Campasano said. "All of
the duties, other than patrol, are handled by the
staff. And he (French) has realigned the staff in
a more organized fashion, but there are no other duties
coming off the 'Patrol Officer' box, as was also the
case in the old organizational chart. Nothing has
changed on the patrol officer side," he said.
continued, "I would like to see us authorize his
(French's) reorganization because he needs to make those
promotions in order to make this system work- he needs
to fill those (vacated) slots. But I agree with
Scott (Gross). I would like to see those
additional officers go through the same process that we
would have if any department was asking for additional
personnel. Sometimes we get into the mindset that
well, we have a savings, so let's spend that money and
hire more people. Well that's not a savings
anymore. If there is a need, we should demonstrate
the need. Any other department that comes to us
with personnel requests, we require them to do some kind
Campasano also praised Chief French for the money-saving
reorganization of his department.
do think he (French) did a very good job in the
reorganization, and it could very well end up being that
we hire three new police officers," Campasano
said, "but I don't think it's a given, or I
personally don't believe it should be a given, that
simply because we have a savings, we should then go
ahead and spend that savings for additional personnel,
or something that in the long run could end up being