To The Daily Sun,
Public safety is or should be the No. 1 job of government at all levels. The Gilford Police Department does an admirable job working to keep us safe, especially considering its limited resources.
What can we do to improve our police protection in Gilford? Some publicly-available data and responses to right-to-know requests provides some of the answers.
The Town of Gilford spans 38.8 square miles in addition to inland waterways (lakes and rivers) of 14.7 square miles. The base population of the town is 7,156 according to the latest census figures, without taking into account how our population mushrooms greatly certain portions of each year.
At present we have only 10 officers assigned to patrol our town. I believe this means that any time of the day or night there are only two manned police cruisers working the town!
The FBI apparently promotes a recommended “standard” for local police department staffing of 3.3 officers per 1,000 residents, which would mean that the Gilford PD should be staffed with not less than 24 officers, without even taking into account the huge influx of visitors and second homeowners during the summer season and for various winter events.
It is my understanding that two new full-time officers either have been recently hired or are about to be hired. If all goes well with their background checks and they are actually hired, they likely will not actually start working until the beginning of July, but in September three officers will have to go to the Police Academy for 16 weeks and then spend nine or 10 weeks in on the job field training before they can operate alone in a patrol car. Thus, those three patrol officers will not be fully operational until next year at the earliest. Until then, we are still left with ten patrol officers at the most.
I understand that the Board of Selectmen have authorized only 20 full-time officers (from the chief down to the newest hire). But the cadre of officers actually assigned to patrol our town does not include the chief, the deputy chief, the lieutenant, any of our three detectives, or the police prosecutor, none of whom work a patrol officer rotation or attend to citizen calls for service as their primary job function.
If we could get the Gilford PD up to 23 or 24 full-time officers, we might be better situated to have more than two officers on patrol each per shift (that’s right — only two patrol officers are on duty at any time in our town!) and hopefully to reduce overtime costs due to having to cover shifts for any approved time-off, sickness, medical leaves, training coverage, etc.
The bottom line seems to me that, to continue to keep us safe, our selectmen should authorize an increase in the staffing of the Gilford PD of up to not less than 24 full time officers.
Support your local police and contact your Gilford selectmen to ask that they increase the size of our Police Department.
Norman J. Silber