GREENFIELD — Greenfield City Council members asked for more police officers and a larger recognition of Pride Month during its May 25 meeting.
Mayor Lance Walker said the city should budget three new police officer positions after the council listened to a presentation from Chief of Police Gregory Allen.
Allen presented an update on the Greenfield Police Department, which has a staff of 33, including 15 patrol officers, one chief, one captain, one administrative assistant, five sergeants, one school resource officer, two detectives, a half-time CSI investigator, a half-time community service officer, one records supervisor, one police service technician, one property and evidence technician, two code enforcement officers and one animal control officer.
His discussion included coverage numbers and how Greenfield has reached a threshold in its growth and needs three additional officers. The request comes after the city recently swore in five new bilingual officers in February.
“I think we need three more officers,” Walker said. “It’s impossible to have a thriving and growing city without having a safe community. Without a safe community, a city will never prosper. Crime will take over and ruthlessness and destruction will occur. Public safety is always a must.”
Councilmember Drew Tipton echoed support for additional officers, and asked for specifics on the department’s response times during weekend spikes in calls for service. He said he had heard complaints from people who called and were told an officer would respond in an hour or two because there was so much stacked up in front of them.
“I agree with Mayor Walker that we definitely do need to see about getting more officers in the streets, and I definitely think we need to get them during those primetime hours when those calls for service do spike and we need to make sure that our community is well-protected,” Tipton said.
Allen characterized Greenfield’s response times as “very good” as being typically less than two or three minutes. However, during spike periods the department has to prioritize the emergency calls and have the officers available.
“That emergency that a family or victim may be experiencing to them may be something where they need a person right away,” Allen said. “Our challenge is having the ability to respond to multiple emergencies or simultaneous emergencies with our staffing level.”
He said the department has to weigh differing emergencies and crimes in progress to determine where officers go first.
“Oftentimes when they hear that unfortunate quote, ‘We can’t get to you for an hour or so,’ that is usually a follow-up call that requires investigation after the call has already occurred,” Allen explained, saying such a post-event contact would be pushed back before an active crime.
“Four times our residents, our community, have gone to the voting box and increased our taxes for policing, code enforcement and youth recreation,” Walker said. “I think we need to honor what our community wants and it’s spoken. It wants more in our police department, it wants code enforcement and it wants more youth recreation.”
In other business, Councilmember Yanely Martinez said a pride flag should be displayed outside city hall in June.
“I have requested that we bring a pride flag to the City of Greenfield,” Martinez said, after saying she wants to see a proclamation declaring June as Pride Month in Greenfield. “It has never happened and I think that it’s long overdue.”
Martinez followed up on the idea in a May 26 social media post where she said a rainbow flag should be raised in recognition of LGBTQ residents both locally and nationally.
“I want to be proud to live in a place where everyone is safe to learn and grow in a respectful way, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression,” Martinez said.
She added that she stands in full support of the LGBTQ community in Greenfield.
“When it comes to proclamations, I don’t just want to issue proclamations just because it’s trending,” Martinez said. “We need to have a conversation beyond the proclamation and provide our community with resources with an open door policy.”
No actions were taken on either item, but Martinez did specifically request for the Pride Month proclamation for the next council meeting’s agenda on June 8.