David Scott, Chief of Police
59 Main St.
Pepperell, MA 01463
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Pepperell Police Chief Discusses Override, Which Failed Monday by 6 Votes
Moldy Police Station, Lack of Drug Education Funding, No Detective Unit All Hurt Town
Two Police Officers to be Cut
PEPPERELL — Voters failed to pass a tax override vote Monday that would have injected $1.1 million into the town’s operational and capital budgets. The override failed by six votes. The Town of Pepperell has been battling a structural deficit for several years and it has been taking its toll on the police department.
“It’s no secret we have a mold problem in our 115-year-old building,” Police Chief David Scott said, “We are still piecing money together for the mold remediation and to get us back into the building, but for now, we will continue to work out of trailers.”
The Pepperell Police department has been functioning out of two temporary trailers in their front parking lot since March.
“We will be in our trailers at least through the summer,” Chief Scott said. The Chief met with Town Administrator John Moak yesterday to discuss possible funding options to get his men and women back into the Public Safety Complex, and out of the parking lot.
The failed override means a lack of funding to properly maintain the public safety complex and other town buildings, but a more immediate concern to the town is a lack of police manpower.
Cutbacks have forced PPD to take its only detective away from investigations and put him on patrol to fill the midnight shift.
“When I got hired 20 years ago, we were at 14 sworn employees,” said Scott. “As the town grew, so did we, up to 18 full-timers in 2009 when the financial issues started. Now we are back down to 14 officers again. Our detective has been moved to midnight shift patrol. Our overtime budget is insufficient. Training will suffer even more than it has over the last several years. We won’t be getting the cruisers we need. All of this adds up, and when you factor in a heroin problem that the Governor has declared to be a public health emergency, it adds up even more.”
Chief Scott is also concerned about the reputation of his department.
“We have a lot of great people that work here at the Pepperell Police Department, but this constant lack of funding is not going to attract talented young people to come work here,” he said. “Votes like this have an impact beyond the current loss of two more officers.”
Several programs have been cut from the department over the past several years, including youth and drug education programs like D.A.R.E.
Scott said the loss of the drug prevention program coupled with the loss of his only detective position is a bad combination for Pepperell.
“Drugs are an issue in every city and town,” he said “and a police department needs both prevention and enforcement to help the community battle the issue.”
Pepperell has had five drug overdose deaths since 2012, more than all of its neighbors, combined, and more than any other community in North-West Middlesex County. Locally in Massachusetts, only Lowell and Billerica have endured more overdose deaths in the past three years.
The members of the department will return to their 115 year old building — which just had mold removed and still lacks air conditioning for air circulation — today temporarily for training in their second floor training room. When the building was renovated in the 1980’s from a school into a public safety complex, the second floor was untouched due to funding issues.
“It was part of phase two of the three phase renovation that was never completed. We have to wait until June to do some of our training to make sure we have the funding and unfortunately it gets warm up there, but we manage,” Chief Scott said. “It’s kind of embarrassing, but the guys that have been here a while are used to these types of issues. It’s the young guys that keep leaving that make me nervous. The last two to leave were Pepperell kids that left for other departments. It’s tough for them to be constantly on the chopping block. It’s too bad. They are good cops and good people.”
Chief Scott plans to continue the fight to get his men and his programs back. The Department will also seek grant funding from a variety of sources.
“We need to get back into the schools, but we are just covering our basic shifts and mandatory training at this point,” Chief Scott said. “These guys are dedicated. They will come running as aggressively as ever, every time someone calls 911. We’ll survive. We have to.”