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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Milford merchants urge hiring of cop

By Brian McCready
Milford Bureau Chief
— The Downtown Merchant Business Association and Chamber of Commerce President Kathy Alagno are urging city officials to hire a new police officer to help quell the frayed nerves of downtown business owners.
Recently, there were two high-profile robberies in the city’s downtown.
On March 29, TJ’s Package Store, 43 River St., was robbed by two men who wielded a gun. The pair ran away with an undisclosed amount of cash from the store, police said.
The second robbery took place shortly after midnight on April 10. Alderwoman Jessica Blackletter, D-4, and her friend were robbed at gunpoint while they were walking on the Green. Their assailant made off with their wallets and cell phones, police said.
Police officials say they have responded by beefing up patrols downtown.
Alagno said she will speak with Mayor James L. Richetelli Jr. and members of the Board of Aldermen about hiring an additional police officer for the downtown area. She said the officers could have a “very visible presence during the daytime hours.”
Richetelli said he will meet with police, downtown merchants, and chamber officials soon to hear their concerns. He said hiring one new officer just for downtown may not be possible, but the city would beef up patrols downtown.
Police Chief Keith Mello said there has been a significant increase in the number of visitors downtown because of the thriving businesses there. He said he understands the business owners’ concerns.
“I believe it’s the right of our citizens to let their concerns and desires be known to their elected officials,” Mello said.
“We are doing everything we can with the resources that we have,” he added. “We have a presence down there day and night and when the bars close.”
Mello said the department needs more police officers to meet the increased demand and calls for service. The chief added that for several years the department did not see an increase in staffing levels. Currently, the Board of Finance and Richetelli have approved adding one officer in next year’s budget. Mello, who requested two new officers, said he is also sympathetic to the current difficult economic climate.
Former DMBA President Susan Shaw said she is drafting a letter on behalf of the downtown merchants to the aldermen asking for another officer to be added within 18 months. She said that is how long it takes to hire and train a new officer.
She said the police do a “great job,” and the two “terrible incidents” serve as a reminder to everyone downtown that they have to be “vigilant.” But she added that most people she talked to are “not overly concerned.”
“There is not a sense of panic. We feel safe down here,” Shaw said. “We don’t want to be reactive. We want to be proactive.”
Alagno said she met this week with members of the DMBA and the Police Department to talk about what downtown merchants can do to safeguard themselves. A workshop will be set up for businesses, she said. She added that she will work with police spokesman Officer Vaughan Dumas on e-mail notification if there is a problem or issue downtown.
Register reporter James Tinley contributed to this story.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe there is a serious need for more police in Milford. The current administration (and past) have allowed for so much commercial growth - that this is where the police spend all there time. Forget about the resident tax payer . There is no/very little traffic control - just look and the 3 young adults killed so far this year and the resulting traffic issues at the mall.
However, the citizens cannot have the protection we need due to the out of control school budget. The majority of tax payers do not have children (not kids) in the school system, yet this is where the majority of our tax dollars go! The BOE needs to get a grip - this is a time of doing more with less - the BOE and Dr. Polansky have their heads buried in the sand.

May 5, 2008 at 9:23 AM 

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