Urges support for new Department of Community Care

Published: 6/9/2021 4:26:54 PM Northampton has taken a significant step this past this year toward creating a Department of Communi...

Published: 6/9/2021 4:26:54 PM

Northampton has taken a significant step this past this year toward creating a Department of Community Care conceived of and recommended by the Policing Review Commission and now funded by Mayor David Narkewicz in his recommended fiscal 2022 budget.

In an admirable show of community service and in the spirit of keeping a vibrant participatory democracy alive, many long hours were spent by the volunteer members of the commission hearing testimony from citizens, interviewing those with expertise, and researching huge volumes of relevant information. We should be proud of their service to us.

There is a lot of confusion about what the commission has recommended due to many conflicting passionate opinions expressed about this and related matters since last summer. Essentially, the commission recommends enhanced resources which can be more effectively matched to calls for assistance.

There is strong support for the Northampton Police Department in the city. However, responsibilities have been added to their job beyond law enforcement, primarily because they have been the 24-hour responders.

Many have testified that they like the police responding just as they now are. A significant segment of people, though, have asked for unarmed responders where risk of violence is not an issue. For this, there needs to be a new department with different types of responders for our excellent call dispatchers to choose from.

Some have said that, since the problems in Northampton are not as bad as the worst examples in the country, there is no reason to act. The commission’s recommendations are based on requests by a significant portion of people in Northampton for whom the current system is not working right now! They are asking for a better match in the type of responses to their calls for help.

This is not a city where we decide to act only in comparison to the worst situations. This is the moment to build on the hard work of Chief Jody Kasper and others to modernize the city’s service to its citizens. Let’s seize the moment and support the creation and incorporation of this new department into our city structure.

Edward Olmstead


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Newsrust - US Top News: Urges support for new Department of Community Care
Urges support for new Department of Community Care
Newsrust - US Top News
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