Friday, January 12, 2007

Police seniority

In my story this week on the town government's 2008 budget proposal there's a section on the Stowe Police Department. After whacking over $25,000 from the police budget this week, one member of the Stowe Select Board raised the issue of cutting the full-time police force.

Any discussion about that will happen in executive session, behind closed doors, because they'd be talking about specific officers. Select board members said they'd prefer to do this, if at all, through officer retirements, as opposed to lay-offs.

Here's a breakdown of how long each the 11 officers has been at the police department, as outlined in the 2005 police union contract. I've updated the numbers for 2007:

• Ed Stewart - 30 years

• Ed Webster - 27 years

• Bruce Merriam - 22 years

• Steve Stewart - 22 years

• Chris McHugh - 17 years

• Bruce Emerson - 14 years

• David Knight - 9 years

• Loren Thresher - 9 years

• Chris Rogers - 9 years

• Fred Whitcomb - 7 years

• Michael Dougherty - 4 years

TOTAL: 170 years
AVERAGE PER OFFICER: 15.45 years

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Stowe crime in 2006

A cellular telephone is lost on the Stowe Recreation Path. A motorist is charged with drunken driving along Route 100. A loose dog wanders onto someone’s property and is impounded.

The Stowe Police Department handled these and many other incidents last year, 4,863 incidents in all. That’s an average of just over 13 incidents per day.

Most incident categories are at the same levels as in previous years, said Stowe Police Chief Ken Kaplan.

The most noticeable change in 2006 involved a handful of high-profile, “brazen” drug rings in the area, Kaplan said.

In November, Stowe police and officers from several other agencies raided a house off Sylvan Park Road in Stowe, arresting six people and seizing guns, cash and cocaine.

The presence of drug rings in the Stowe area has fueled other criminal activity, too.

“There are so many druggies running around now — heroin is so prevalent throughout the county,” Kaplan said. “A lot of little break-ins happen so they can sell it and get a hit of heroin.”

Here’s a look at some of the top incident categories of 2006, and how many local police responded to from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31:

• Animal problems: 394

• Lost or found property: 194

• Thefts: 190

• Car accidents: 188

• Frauds: 183

• DUIs: 98

• Vandalism: 43

• Burglaries: 34

• Possessing drugs: 34

• Fire calls: 30

• Assaults: 15

• Forgeries: 13

• Thefts (vehicles): 6

• Embezzlements: 4

• Lewd conduct: 3

Police also handle many service calls, such as house alarms, and complaints or questions from residents.