6 - September 30, 2011 | Salem Community Patriot Citizen Police Academy Week 2 Update OPEN HOUSE
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by Andrea Ganley-Dannewitz The Salem Police Department’s Citizen Police Academy, sponsored
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by a generous donation from the Greater Salem Exchange Club in an effort to increase community policing entered its second week and featured presentations on the dispatch and communications aspect of police work as well as patrol operations. Presenting the topic of communications and dispatching
was Officer Scott Deschene. Deschene works full-time in communications and also works part-time as a patrol officer. A typical shift in dispatch consists of answering non-emergency and 911 calls, as well as dispatching officers to calls, prioritizing calls based on urgency, handling lobby traffic and knowing the whereabouts of each and every officer working that shift. “The average work life of a police dispatcher is about five to seven
years. It’s a high-stress job that is not for everyone and in this job you deal with every type of person that is out there. The job consists of constantly multi-tasking, answering three to four phone lines at once while handling radio traffic and using the communications computer system all at once. A dispatcher is constantly doing six to seven things at once during their shift and many dispatchers who are hired do not make it through training,” Deschene said. “Every call that comes in is taken very seriously. Before that call
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is answered it is unknown what is coming in. That phone is always answered by the first ring,” Deschene said. Dispatchers must follow the law enforcement agency’s general orders (policy and procedures) and handle each call, making split- second decisions based on their experience, judgement, and personal knowledge. A dispatcher does have the authority to determine exactly what actions the officers need to take at any incident. The information obtained from each call is crucial in determining what actions need to be taken and dispatchers have numerous types of callers that call in to the police department. The different types of callers that call for help are: angry callers, chronic callers (those who call constantly), elderly, foreign language speakers (which can be difficult to understand), incomplete (911 hang up), juveniles, long-winded callers, and panicked callers (who can be difficult to obtain information from because they are in a panicked state of mind). The types of calls that Salem Police Department receive are: assaults, burglaries, business calls, dead bodies, domestic violence, general information inquiries, medical, missing persons, noise complaints, nonsense calls, parking complaints, prowlers, sexual assaults, stolen vehicles, suicides, suspicious activity, welfare checks (check the well- being of), thefts, and motor vehicle accidents.
Representatives and information from the following schools will be available:
Academy of Notre Dame - Tyngsboro Austin Preparatory School - Reading Bishop Fenwick High School - Peabody Bishop Guertin High School - Nashua, NH Central Catholic High School - Lawrence
Lowell Catholic High School - Lowell Malden Catholic High School - Malden Notre Dame High School - Lawrence Presentation of Mary Academy - Methuen St. John’s Preparatory School - Danvers
For directions visit CentralCatholic.net
or call 978-682-0260
Officer Deschene said that the most common problem with callers is inaccurate information. He says the best thing a caller can do is provide the best description possible of a suspect or incident, its location, a suspects last seen direction of travel as well as a in- depth clothing description including their footwear and if a vehicle is involved a license plate number and make, model and color of the vehicle. This information is the best way possible for an officer to locate and apprehend a person that needs to be taken into custody. The second half of last week’s class consisted of a presentation on patrol operations given by Deputy Police Chief Shawn Patten who oversees all operations of the police department. “The deputy chief oversees everything
and everyone, but is mostly focused on patrol operations. The chain of
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Sergeant Mike Wagner (left) and Sergeant Joel Dolan, who is the coordinator for the Citizen Police Academy, both speak to the class during last week’s session.
command starts with the police chief, who the deputy chief reports to. The Salem Police Department previously had two captains and a deputy chief, but the second captain was cut from the budget last year,” Patten said. The deputy chief and the captain now share the duties of operations command to even the workload. The patrol division is split into three shifts; 8 a.m.-4 p.m., 4 p.m.- midnight, and midnight to 8 a.m. Previously, while officers were in roll call at the beginning of a shift there were no officers on the street to respond to calls, without them leaving roll call to take care of them. The cover shift covers the hours of 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. The officers working the cover shifts are scheduled to work either 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. or from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., keeping coverage on the streets during peak activity hours. This also provides two additional patrol officers on each shift, without an increase in spending. Cover shifts began in 2007 and have worked out great for the community and for the police department. The patrol division includes several specialty units at Salem Police Department. Animal Control, which was previously a part of the Department of Public Works is now officially a police department unit, which only makes sense as an animal control officer needs to be a certified police officer. Salem Police Department’s K-9 Unit currently consists of two dogs
and two officers, Officer Paul Benoit and his K-9 partner Til and Officer Dan Nelson and his K-9 partner Trigger. At Salem Police Department at least one of the two K-9 officers is on duty per day, which keeps the K-9 Unit on duty seven days a week. K-9s are used for tracking, drug detection and bite work as needed to apprehend a suspect. The TAR Team (traffic accident reconstruction team) is a very in depth unit that takes officers years to master. The TAR team is deployed whenever there is a fatal or very serious motor vehicle accident that requires a specialty investigation to learn the cause, this also includes mechanical knowledge required to perform what is called a motor vehicle autopsy. The motorcycle unit was brought back in 2008 through a very generous donation from a local business owner who saw the need in the growing and very busy town of Salem. With the high number of cars traveling Salem’s streets and the high volume of traffic accidents, a motorcycle unit is beneficial giving officers the benefit of being able to respond to calls where traffic is congested and a cruiser may not be able to access as easily. The Investigations Unit consists of several detectives and handles all in-depth investigations as well as assists patrol with investigations assigned to them. One of the department’s detectives works in a deep undercover investigation assigned to the interstate drug task force a collaboration of detectives from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and the DEA
In addition to the specialty units directly at the Salem Police Department numerous Salem police officers are also members of the Southern New Hampshire Special Operations Unit (SNHSOU) a regional SWAT team that serves our area. The benefit to the town of having officers as members of the SOU is that when a crisis occurs in Salem, 36 heavily armed officers as well as doctors, EMTs, crisis negotiators, and counselors from Center for Life Management are deployed to the scene of a crisis and are on site in less than 45 minutes.
Next week’s Citizen Police Academy topic is arrest procedures.
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