As a lead up to the upcoming Mayoral election, the first in Everett’s history that will give the Mayor a four-year term, The Everett Independent has engaged the two candidates for Mayor – Incumbent Mayor Carlo DeMaria and Alderman Robert Van Campen – with a series of questions about their ideas for leading the city over the next four years. This is a weekly mini-debate unfolding in the pages of our paper. The third question in our series, presented to you today, is about policing and effort to make Everett safer.
Following the question are the written answers provided to us by the candidates. The Independent has made no material changes to the content of these answers and we have asked the candidates to keep their answers to 300 words, though both candidates went over that threshold this week.
We hope this brief series of questions over the next few weeks helps you make your decision, if you have not already done so
Q. What measures do you propose to increase public safety and decrease criminal activity in Everett over the next four years? and, how will you propose to pay for those new measures, in particular if the Wynn Casino proposal is not granted a license by the state?
Ald. Robert Van Campen
This is probably one of the most critical issues in this election. As I have walked through neighborhoods, the question of crime and public safety has been foremost in voters’ minds.
Our approach to public safety must change because – despite the Mayor’s press releases – crime is not down in Everett. According to the Everett Police Department’s 2012 Annual Report, Robbery, Theft from a Building and Drug and Narcotic violations have risen since 2011. In some cases these crimes have risen by 40%!
Figures contained in the 2012 Report show that Robbery increased 13% from 2011 and 19% over the last five years. Theft from a Building increased over 30% in 2012 and 40% since 2008. The number of Drug and Narcotic violations rose 24% from 2011. That is not leadership with results.
Robbery, Theft from a Building and Drug and Narcotic violations are direct threats to individual safety. Hiring police officers in an election year – as a political stunt – does not reduce crime nor does it make people safer in their homes.
I am proposing a partnership with Police Chief Steven Mazzie to implement new programs that will improve the police department’s ability to track, analyze and prevent crime. Among those programs would be regionalization of police assets and resources and enhanced local crime analysis. These programs work and are relatively inexpensive.
Regionalization of area police assets would result in the cooperation of a group of police forces. Departments would share information on crimes such as robbery and burglary to include what property has been stolen, where it is fenced, what people have been committing crimes and where. Cross-city cooperation makes it easier to identify criminals and potential crimes.
Enhanced crime analysis can help forecast where and when crimes are likely to be committed. This can be accomplished using relatively inexpensive software that is readily available. Cities such as Cambridge and Chelsea utilize this enhanced crime analysis currently with good success.
Mayor Carlo DeMaria Jr.
My administration is committed to public safety. We strive to keep the City safe through our ISD, fire, and police departments. Using smart policing, we have decreased crime by 28 percent in the past five years. By employing a criminal statistics analyst, we have placed resources where we need them most, decreasing crime and better utilizing our police force. Every day, you can see officers on bicycle patrol, walking our streets and talking to neighbors. Our parks are a number one priority for our young families and neighboring residents. This is why we have installed camera systems throughout.
Our police force has always been the hardest working around – they are now working smart, as well as hard. I am proud to say that our police department was nationally recognized for their achievements.
Keeping our neighborhoods safe and secure is a team effort and many of our departments join together to combat problem properties and together are ridding the city of illegal rooming houses, drug houses masquerading as sober homes and absentee landlords.
Just this year, we hired eight firefighters with a grant and hired four police officers, with six more being interviewed now and starting the academy this winter. We signed mutual aid agreements with surrounding communities to further increase our resources and formed a taskforce with surrounding communities to find funding and better deal with regional issues – crime doesn’t stop at our neighbor’s borders and we now have the tools to fight regional criminal activity. All of our officers have been given special training to deal with issues regarding gangs and many of our officers are specially trained for SWAT or K-9. The City works with federal agencies and local nonprofits like TEASA and the Boys and Girls Club to increase programming in the City. This year we added a program to the budget to identify problem youths and give them job training. Next year, I plan to add sub-station police stations so that we have a stronger presence in more neighborhoods.
In the next four years, I will continue to work to make Everett a safe and secure community to live and work. We have laid the foundation for continued success and will continue to move our City forward.