The Board of Aldermen voted unanimously Monday night to support a request for up to five new police officers, while both Police Chief Steven Mazzie and Mayor Carlo DeMaria appeared before the board to echo that support.
However, when the new officers can be hired and put into action still is unclear.
Aldermen Michael Marchese sponsored a motion to call for the addition of five new police officers in the Everett police department, and Mayor DeMaria told the board that he and Chief Mazzie had already been working on to add “at least five new officers” in the coming fiscal year.
However, the Mayor cautioned that before adding the new officers, he wanted to make sure that the city would be able to afford the new officers, as well as several other officers who would be coming on to the city’s payroll in the next few years.
According to DeMaria and Chief Mazzie, the salaries for five of the city’s current officers are paid by a federal COPS grant, which will be running out in the next year or two. DeMaria said that he is waiting to confirm with the city’s outside auditor Tony Rossetti and the newly hired City Auditor Richard Viscay that the city will be able to afford the salary of the existing officers when the grant runs out, as well as the salaries of any new officers that are added in the next few months.
The issue was raised by Alderman Marchese, in response to information the board was given during a Public Safety subcommittee meeting last week, in which Chief Mazzie acknowledged that staffing in the department was down in recent years because of budget concerns that special unit, such as the Everett Gang Unit, had been cut from four detectives to two, to ensure proper manning of patrols and other general efforts.
“We’re getting the job done (now),” Chief Mazzie told the board on Monday night. “But I like to be able to police from a proactive stance and . . .if you have more personnel, obviously you can attack specific problems, like the gang crimes.”
At its peak, the Everett Police Department had 100 officers about five years ago. With the budget crunch of 2008, department budgets were cut across the board and the city used early retirement incentives to pare its police force back, and then chose not to refill the vacant positions as a cost-cutting measure.