Bethel selectmen hear report on police patrols

by Mathew Daigle Staff Writer, Sun Journal Jan. 14, 2014

BETHEL – Sheriff Wayne Gallant of the Oxford County Sheriff's Office told selectmen Monday night that the number of calls in town decreased the first three years his department took over law enforcement duties.

Gallant provided reports to each selectman showing the number of calls his department answered each hour from 2009 to 2013, so they could “have a better idea of when things are happening and what goes on throughout the day,” he said.

“In 2009, when you guys still had your own police department, there were 1,577 calls,” Gallant said. “In 2010, when we came in halfway through the year, there were about 1,500 calls. In 2011, it dropped down to 1,302. In 2012, it was 1,146. In 2013, we had 1,234 calls.”

“As you can see,” Gallant continued, “it's sort of decreased over time. I think the biggest reason for that is more visibility. We don't just have one deputy in town. There are a lot of deputies and troopers throughout the town. It's a proven fact that good visibility is a deterrent to crime.”

The highest number of calls, according to Gallant's report, were alarm calls.

There were 127 alarm calls received in 2013, he said, and nearly all of them were false.

In addition to the incident reports, Gallant said a recent arbitration award at the Oxford County Sheriff's Office establishes a separate coverage zone that deputies can bid on to cover shifts. Gallant said it will benefit the town.

The arbitration award, which labor relations consultant Annalee Rosenblatt said was the culmination of several rounds of grievances concerning the way deputies schedule patrol shifts, adds a subzone centered around Bethel that patrol deputies can bid on to schedule shifts.

Deputies, including corporals and sergeants, write their name next to their chosen shift. If more than one deputy chooses the same shift, the individual with the most seniority or who lives closest to the zone will be the successful bidder.

“This arbitration award will improve the coverage you're going to get,” Gallant said. “You'll have a lot more bodies here to cover the area. We've rearranged our whole schedule.”