The Village Council recently approved three measures to increase public safety for Pinecrest residents and I couldn’t agree more with their decision.
First, they appropriated $495,000 for a License Plate Reader System which will place cameras at all 37 entryways to the Village. The system will read the license numbers and run them through a computer, then immediately send alerts to police dispatchers regarding any vehicles with warrants, vehicles that are stolen cars or have other links to criminal activity. The Village Council also approved adding five new police officer positions and approved the use of funds for creating a K-9 unit program.
Also, the Village and the police union have successfully negotiated the police contract except for a few important expense items. They’re working on resolving those and I’m confident they will. At issue are matters concerning wages, including a five-step increment plan that would gradually increase the amount paid to officers the longer they serve.
Another issue on the table is whether they can take their patrol cars home when they go off duty and use them for limited, specified errands, such as picking up laundry and going to the gym. This would be after a probationary period, and if it goes into effect the officers would no longer receive the $150 monthly allowance they currently get. Many cities allow this.
The police union is also asking for more training to be made available for officers, although there is quite a lot currently on topics such as a Speed Measurement Course, Crisis Intervention Training, Officer Use of Force Training, Stun Gun Training, Taser Dart Firing, Firearms Re-Qualification, Domestic Violence Response and Investigations, Juvenile Sexual Offender Investigation Training, Discriminatory Profiling, Professional Traffic Stops and others.
Since the Pinecrest Police Department is a small independent agency, to keep officers motivated and to give them additional educational opportunities the Police Chief created the Crime Suppression Team, The Motor Unit the Crime Scene Investigation Unit, DUI Program and Neighborhood Crime Watch Program. Both the DUI and Neighborhood Crime Watch have won multiple awards on local and state levels and are among the best.
I would like to suggest restarting the community policing by having the officers on each night and day shift going to 10 houses each shift to meet and greet the homeowners and review with them any problems and challenges the homeowner may face, such as unlocked doors and gates, unlocked vehicles and other things that make crime easier. I would also like to see them walking the business district to become better acquainted with business owners and point out things that would help reduce crime there as well, such as adding security cameras if there are none.
With everyone, the Village Council, the police and residents working together as a team it will make our village a safer place in which to live and work. And isn’t that what we all want?