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The purpose of this Blog is to pick up where the Atkinson Reporter has left off. "The King is dead, Long live the King!" This Blog is a forum for the discussion of predominantly Atkinson; Officials, People, Ideas, and Events. You may give opinion, fact, or evaluation, but ad hominem personal attacks will not be tolerated, or published. The conversation begun on the Atkinson Reporter MUST be continued!

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Sunday, April 5, 2009

NH police eye stimulus funds to add officers Departments hoping to add to their ranks using federal funds

From the Eagle Tribune;

NH police eye stimulus funds to add officers Departments hoping to add to their ranks using federal funds
By James A. Kimble

Police departments across Southern New Hampshire are hoping to increase or replenish their ranks by applying for a new round of federal stimulus money.

The funding is coming from $1 billion recently appropriated for the COPS Hiring Recovery Program, which was part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Local towns first got this kind of federal backing when the COPS grants were established by former President Bill Clinton in the early 1990s. For those who were hired by those grants, the economic circumstances and dire job market seem remarkably similar to those today.

Pelham police Chief Joseph Roark was one of those new hires.

"I had graduated college in the early '90s and the job market was very poor," he said. "When the COPS grants started ... it opened a lot of police jobs that were previously not available. It's had a lasting impact on towns who wanted to buy into the community-based policing."

The grants helped efforts such as school resource officers, bike patrols and specialized beats, Roark said. He now wants to increase his 19-member department by one so he can add a school resource officer.

The town has tried to add a school resource officer for four years, but voters have rejected the proposal. Just last month, voters rejected spending $54,100 to "hire and equip" a school resource officer, 1,348-1,449.

The departments that win the latest round of grants get full funding for three years. But towns must commit to keeping the officer a fourth year. That's prompted towns like Salem and Plaistow to get selectmen's approval before applying.

Salem police Capt. Shawn Patten, the first Salem officer hired under a COPS grant, said he remembered being one of 300 people applying for two to three new spots on the force.

"There were hundreds and hundreds of people attending the police test when I was there," he said. "After that, we were lucky to get 50 to 60 (applicants) to show."

Salem might apply for two more positions if selectmen approve the application. Plaistow is hoping to apply for one officer.

Many town officials have been loathe to spend much outside of the bare necessities in order to keep tax rates down.

In Windham, selectmen panned the idea of applying for the grants because they were uncertain when the economy could turn around, police Chief Gerald Lewis said.

"You can always use more help," Lewis said. "But, as I explained to them, we are holding our own."

Sandown police Chief Joseph Gordon likewise decided not to apply for a new position after attending a meeting in Concord detailing federal stimulus money.

Salem and Plaistow selectmen are due to make their decisions tomorrow.

Salem Town Manager Jonathan Sistare described the grants as a good deal, one of the best since Clinton first established the program.

"In this case, it seems very favorable," he said. "You're getting a three-for-one deal. The other thing we would look at is when we get beyond the grant, we have to ask whether it would be something burdensome for the town."

Sistare said he doesn't think a poor economy would play a role in the decision, given that people are hoping for an economic turnaround by the time the four-year contracts expire.

But the current state of municipal budgets is expected to make the application process very competitive.

"I imagine there are a lot of people who are going to be applying, especially with layoffs (at departments)," Newton police Chief Larry Streeter said.

He hopes to increase his department from five to six. Voters have turned down a request to fund a full-time officer for the last two years, while he said Newton has grown in nearly every area by about 20 percent.

Newton hasn't added a police officer to its ranks since 1996. The five-person department essentially has three full-time people and one part-time person who can investigate nearly 460 cases a year, he said.

A similar story has played out in Hampstead, where voters panned a plan to add two officers for two years running.

Hampstead police Lt. John Frasier said the department would like to add officers to the overnight shift. The town, with a population of 10,000, only has one officer on duty during that time.

"And they keep building," Frasier said of development in recent years. "We have five banks in town now and more strip malls coming in with one cop at night. That's not much protection."

Hampstead last hired an officer about five years ago, when voters agreed to add a full-time detective to the force.

But not everyone is looking to swell their ranks.

In Kingston, where selectmen instituted a hiring freeze, police Chief Donald Briggs is hoping to maintain the nine-member force he has after losing a full-time officer to the Eliot, Maine, Police Department. Briggs added three officers to the department under the COPS program in the 1990s, one dedicated to schools and two others for the street.

"For a small community, it's very helpful to get the seed money," Briggs said. "It was essential to reducing crime and answering an increase in the number of calls we have."

The deadline for applications is April 15. Roark said departments may find out within 90 days whether they receive the funding.

This blog's question is;

Will Atkinson be getting any of that money?

It appears every town in Southern NH has already applied EXCEPT US, WHY?


Anonymous said...

Because our cheif is too busy driving little old lsdiees around to apply

Anonymous said...

Nooooooooo, it's because Consentino, Sapia, and the Selectmen are to busy driving around looking for Blog signs.

Anonymous said...

Would the towns people approve of more full time police positions IF the town got the stimulus money?

Anonymous said...

It is not just for more officers, that money could be used for equipment, like new cruisers, so that the money we spend for that could offset the bloated police budget.

Anonymous said...

Since Atkinson wasn't mentioned in the article, how do we know that we haven't applied for grant money? Also, isn't part of a Town Administrator's job identifying and securing grants? I've heard it said that a good Town Administrator will pay for themselves plus some.

Anonymous said...

They should but Russ never did. Phil has always taken credit for any grants obtained by the PD.

Anonymous said...

Could it possibly be that Atkinson doesn't need any more police positions? Many of the lowly tax payers think that there are too many now - there must be with that humongous budget that was passed! In the Clinton years when government $$ were passed out for cops, etc. the positions were only funded for one? year - maybe 2 - and then the town had to pick up the tab. Do really need the burden?

Anonymous said...

consider that last year we lost two officers to cancer, and the duties of the PD still got done, and for $140,000 less! Why, because they used part timers according to Phil!

Well why cant they do that all the time, instead of hiring another full timer?

But this year we are back up $140,000 to do the same job as last year, and it keeps on going..... and going..... and going..... and going....

Anonymous said...

The budget is not the same $140k with less cops. It's more. Add in the new generator, the extra ++$20k for the fact that EA is out of the PD and I think you are looking at an $156k increase in the PD budget over last year.

Anonymous said...

To 4:05pm:

Get your facts straight. The COPS grants were 3 year grants. The government paid for 75% of the officers salaries and benefits. The Town paid 25%. After the grants expired the Town picked the tab in full. Do some homework before you shoot your mouth off, jerk.

Anonymous said...

To 6:23:

The reason they can't use part time officers is that due to state law they can only work 1300 hours a year.

Do you want a part time doctor or lawyer handling your affairs?

The PD has over 20 spots for part time officers. Many of which are old and do not work the road. There is a core group of part time officers - about six - who know what they are doing. So, you have six part timers and the five full timers working the town and doing a damn goob job.

This is typical Atkinson...go half assed on everything instead of doing it right the first time.

Anonymous said...

Yup, that generator was a "must" have item. Next it will be a full gym, spa and an out door pool.

Anonymous said...

Why are you complaining about the generator? It was voted for, end of story. And comparing it with a spa is ridiculous. You obviously have no clue about the communication systems that the police rely upon. It's bad enough that they end up being on their own in certain areas of town due to dead spots. Let's at least keep their systems up so they can have the tools they need to do their jobs.

Anonymous said...

WOW, 11:35, you sound like Phil "get your facts straight!"

4:05 was mostly right, he said government paid for a couple of years then town paid the rest, what are you bitching about?

Anonymous said...

Hey 11:39,

again, if everything got done last year with part timers, how can they be unqualified this year?

And if we have unqualified part timers on the force, why?

Anonymous said...

I'll tell you why the generator is a problem;

Because they already have a generator.

Because the emergency communications center is at the firehouse which has a generator.

And because the only reason phil wanted this was so he doesn't have to go into Mike Murphy's house when there is an emergency. He wants to have his own control.

Anonymous said...

To 11:35 PM - My sincere apologies! I was off by one year and it has been a while. I certainly hope you are not one of Atkinson PD's finest! If so, your attitude is truly terrifying. If one should be unfortunate enough to be pulled over by you I fear that the person's life would be in danger.

Anonymous said...

To Anon @ 1:13PM

While the fire station may be the emergency command center, they do not provide the same systems that the police use. If those systems go down because of a lack of power, then they are unavailable to the officers regardless if the fire station has a generator or not. I think your problem isn't so much the generator as it is that it has something to do with Phil. It makes me wonder if you lived in a different time if you would have complained about going to police cars from horse back because Phil didn't need such luxuries. There is a whole department that we are talking about here, not just Phil. Plus, this wasn't Phil's decision. It was decided upon by the voters. The voters spoke. Deal with it.

Anonymous said...

April 7, 2009 7:48 AM

I guess the gym and the pool are in the works then?

Anonymous said...

April 7, 2009 1:28 PM

Only in your little mind.

Anonymous said...

Phil foreshadowed the generator for the police station right after the Ice Storm. He wanted to show the selectmen that he still had the power with the voters to get anything he wanted, if needed or not.

He knew he could stack the deliberative session with his people regardless of the lawsuit, so the request for the generator was put forth by the selectmen.

Stacked deliberative session won, it went on the ballot, and the generator was approved.

More taxpayer money wasted.

Taxpayers get Phil out of you wallet and out of Town. You can’t afford him or the Selectmen that support him. You need to watch our official daily and attend deliberative session every year, to clean the scum from our town. Otherwise, just send all your money to Phil when you get it. He will get it one way or the other.

Phil Consentino is NOT YOUR FRIEND! He is the WOLF in SHEEPS CLOTHING.

Anonymous said...

To 1:16 and 9:58 April 7th, 2009:

1. No one said part timers were unqualified. The point made, was that they can only work "X" numbers of hours per year. This is so Towns cannot force part time officers to work more than 40 hours a week and not have to pay them benefits and pay them low wages.

2. To the person who made the comment about one's life being in danger by being pulled over by an Atkinson Police Officer. I think your attitude is narrow minded; and no...I am not a cop in this town; but I am a police officer who lives in this town and I respect the cops Atkinson has and the job they do with all the political issues and squabbling. Furthermore, not one person in this town can complain about the way they are treated by the police. The cops bend over backwards for the people in town. You would not receive the same level of treatment in any other town. And, if some of you with your anti police rhetoric were spout that off in any other town you would be in for a rude awakening. Sometimes I think that the citizerny in this town has such a sense of entitlement that they begin to treat the police - not as public servants - but as public slaves.

To all the cop haters and anti-government folks out there: If you think that government work and workers are underworked and overpaid...please go to the State of New Hampshire job listing web sites for entry level state jobs. Apply. The State Police are hiring, too if anyone is interested. Come and see how fun our jobs can be :-)

Lastly, the new Obama stimulus grants actually provide 100% of the funding, so they are better than the old Clinton era COPS grants.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:36,

So if I understand your logic, Chief Consentino used the ice storm as a power play on the selectmen? Um...ok....

If your plan succeeded to get Phil voted out of his position by changing the qualifications of his job, who's to say a new police chief wouldn't have started to push for new and up-to-date equipment? And would YOU be complaining about it here?

As much as you would like to believe the deliberative session was stacked, it wasn't. The majority of the town was not in favor of the petitions.

Anonymous said...

Moreover, the cost for the generator was "pulled" out of a hat. There was no pricing research gone into it.

Nobody followed up on it so the guestimate on what we taxed for is not accurate. I think cowboy antics like this is what makes Phil the bad guy.

Anonymous said...

I believe the price of the generator that was presented on the warrant article was not the price that Phil came up with. I believe his figure was much higher than 20k and someone else (BOS maybe) took over the pricing research.

Anonymous said...

The BOS thought that Phil's price was too high. They (Phil and the BOS) agreed on half of what Phil already proposed. Still, no research was given on where the original or even the final price came from. It was simply out of a hat.

Therefore if you would like something such as a generator and you have no clue on the price, make a guess on what you would like for funds and then double it. When you present your proposal to the BOS they will say "gosh, thats too high. We will only honor half of that". Bingo, you are golden.

Anonymous said...

I don't know that what you say is accurate. My understanding was Phil asked for somewhere around 65k. The BOS told him that it could be done cheaper and came up with their own figure of 20k. I think it was Fred who took this on. How that figure was derived, however, I'm not sure.

Anonymous said...

I do remember Dave Palaria, the electrical inspector, coming in one Monday night and discussing the PD generator issue. He had researched the building's needs I believe with Dave Weymouth, and did mention that the generator would have to be big enough to handle both heat and a/c and also be able to handle 3 phase. What at the PD is 3 phase I can't remember that they said. No pricing was mentioned at that time as far as I remember. The original price that was asked was $56,000. The budget committee reduced that. The big standby generator at the AFD cost in the vicinity of $30,000 in 1999.

Anonymous said...

The heating system is three-phase but they are having problems with it. Maybe they should fix the heat first, get rid of the three-phase. That's why the generator is so expensive.

Anonymous said...

If there's an outage, heat yes, a/c no.

Anonymous said...

They already have backup heaters. What they need is power for the radio transmitter. Maybe the chief is trying to keep up with the Jones' and that be the Fire department.

MAcciard said...

The Clinton era COPS grant was 75% for 1st year 50% 2nd yr. 25% third yr. After that town pays.

Stimulus grant is 100% for 2yrs. I believe, after that Town picks up cost.

The generator was proposed at $56,000. Fred Childs on Selectmen said he though it could be done for much less, and suggested $25,000.

Budget committee agreed.

Quotes were handed out deliberative session by a couple of town residents, that 3 phase 22k generators were available for $7,999.00, plus $1,200 for transfer panel, and $2,300 for installation.

No formal research or quotes were sought prior by any official to the best of my knowledge.

Part time officers, by law, are limited to a max. of 1,300 hours per yr. but they receive benefits over 1000 hours by union contract.

As far as the person who made his claim about the attitude of an Atkinson officer, I believe he was addressing that to the "get your facts straight" commentator. It has been my personal observation that the officers in Atkinson are professional, and have to work that much harder to overcome the burdens placed upon them by perceptions created by the administration.

None of this, however, masks the fact that our police budget is vastly overblown. As someone already posted, last year the entire job of the PD for a whole year was accomplished for $643,000.

When I asked this question at deliberative session it was stated that this was accomplished with part timers filling in. My response, to which I have yet to receive a cogent reply was, "GREAT, so if we could do that last year, why cant we do it this year? Why do we need $140,000 more this year to do the same job as last year?

Anonymous said...

The inflated budget is for other things that are NOT related to PD.

Unless someone can justify on paper the exact use of the monies and make it transparent (not how the generator was handled) many of us will be happy.

Anonymous said...

An ideal use for a grant would to again revisit the PD communications problem. And believe me, there really is a problem. Because of Atkinson's hilly terrain combined with the low power of their portables, there are dead spots on the west side.

However, I'm not suggesting the town go the same route as the last attempt. That was a fiasco. There are ways to solve the problem much cheaper, and to prove it, Plaistow just did the same thing with a new satellite receiver at Timberlane. The LT. even mentioned it helped with dead spots on the east side of town.

Grants for communications upgrades are common and our need is justifiable and a perfect fit.

Anonymous said...

No, rather than do something that is important to the officers on the line, we opted for the over inflated guesstimate on a generator that will most likely be used only once in a 10 year span. Now thats progress!

Anonymous said...

I realize this is off topic, but I am wondering if there are any other residents having issues with Fairpoint Communications' phone and internet service. My DSL service has been very poor as of late and I'm wondering if anyone else has been having problems too.

Anonymous said...

and another cheap way to solve the problem is CAR REPEATERS! That way the low power portables are only transmitting the 100 feet or so to the car, the higher power car radio buonces the signal back to the station.

This has been used with great success all over the country, but in 2006 Billy and Phil wouldn't discuss it. and neither would the tower committee

Anonymous said...

YES! The repeaters certainly are a low cost and reasonable solution and could have been done this year but instead the chief wanted a generator that maybe used once. The last major power failure we had in this town was 10 years ago. Do you think what they are asking for is really going to be used enough to make a difference? The repeaters certainly would.

When are the people of Atkinson going to realize what is important and what is a scam?

Anonymous said...


This is as classic as the "vendetta" line. Anyone that uses the GET YOUR FACT STRAIGHT line is taking a page out of the chief's leadership manual.

These tactics are copied by others. We've all witnessed it. Frank allows it in deliberative session. Thanks for the great leadership, chief and Frank, in making this town as divided as it can be. Thanks a lot. Your contributions are greatly appreciated.

Anonymous said...

I can't resist this.

I've lived in town for 46 years. 2008 was the first time I can ever recall that we were out of power for more than 1 day. So we pay a bundle for a p.d. generator. We all know we're going to need it sometime before 2053.

Anonymous said...

The problem for you, Phil is that we have our facts straight, you just dont like getting caught doing stupid things.

Anonymous said...

The article was to spend "UP TO"
25k. This means when bids do go out it may be far less than 25k we end up spending. So at this point in time, we have not been porked. I recommend everyone needs to change their panties and calm down. If they spend 25k with no bid process, then we can all start screaming. At this point in time its a waste of energy.

Anonymous said...

the up to $25,000 isn't the point. The point is thaat the dept. head, Phil, asked for $56,000 originally!

Anonymous said...

He asked for it, but didn't get it so somebody was doing their job. Isn't that what's supposed to happen? Why all the angst over a generator that was approved by the voters? Your tax bill will barely notice this. Geez...

Anonymous said...

Now that the blog signs are down, will they be policing to remove other signs that are illegally posted according to their rules? For instance there are a few signs posted on the corner of 121 and sawyer for the country club and lewis builders. They are attached to a telephone pole that is owned by the telephone company. How is that?