“We need more police officers. Plain and simple.”
That was the message Foxborough Town Manager Kevin Paicos relayed to selectmen at Tuesday’s meeting during a discussion of the town’s FY14 budget goals.
Paicos identified the need for more police officers as the top priority while discussing the possibility of finding the financial flexibility needed in the FY14 budget to hire new employees in town.
“I’m well into the budget [writing process] at this point,” Paicos told selectmen Tuesday. … “I’m desperately trying to [find funds for additional police officers] in the context of the budget that’s already very tight.”
Paicos told selectmen the town’s top priority for new employees should be public safety/police, followed by laborers for the DPW, a floating clerk in Town Hall and additional help for Council on Aging.
“Those are priorities but we are not going to do all of that,” Paicos said. "All other priorities are second to police."
Paicos said he is currently looking at “two or three initiatives” with Foxborough Chief of Police Edward O’Leary that would free up enough funds in the FY14 budget to hire two additional officers.
“We did hire one new officer last year and one the year before,” Paicos said. “I’m hoping to [hire] two more officers this year and that’s my number one priority and I hope that meets with the board’s expectation.”
To get to that point, Paicos and O’Leary are reviewing the following possibilities:
“One [initiative] is an ongoing discussion with the Kraft organization,” Paicos said. “Were that to yield a conclusion where the [Board of Selectmen] was interested in proposing additional liquor licenses [to the state] there’s a mitigation package, which I have communicated to them that would be needed and that would include additional police officers and patrols at Patriot Place.”
The second initiative is the potential reorganization of the Foxborough Police Department, which would “trade management for troops,” according to Paicos.
“There’s a very strong possibility I may propose a reorganization of the police department involving some restructuring and that could have implications where there’s some substantial savings, which could translate into extra police officers,” Paicos said.
Paicos said he would not get into the third initiative publicly but told selectmen it “could potentially result in having resources to increase [the amount of] police officers” in town.
“It’s an enormous priority frankly,” Paicos said of the town’s need for additional officers. “I know it’s no secret that we are stretched very thin. Most shifts start with five or four [officers] and a supervisor but very often we are down to three [officers] and a supervisor, which is very thin.”
Paicos said a driving force behind his quest to hire additional police officers in FY14 is the town’s unique situation along Route 1.
“For a community our size with a call volume our size and with [Gillette Stadium], Patriot Place [and hotels and motels along Route 1] … it makes us totally unique,” Paicos said. “There isn’t a town like us at all.”
With Route 1 demanding much of the department’s resources, Paicos said there’s “less than adequate resources out there on the road” for the rest of the town, which is something he hopes to address in FY14.
It’s always a bit of a risk [when resources are stretched so thin] and we’ve been fortunate,” Paicos said. … “I know the board is aware there are nights, particularly Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sundays when it is the case that we are sending all of our resources to Patriot Place … that means the assets for the rest of the community are up there.”
Paicos said he hopes to be done writing the FY14 budget before the end of January, giving selectmen and other boards plenty of time to review it before May’s Annual Town Meeting.