Grantham Town Meeting Voters  Approve Late-Night Police Officer

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 3/28/2018 12:08:06 AM
Modified: 3/28/2018 12:08:12 AM

Grantham — Residents now will be able to rely on a local policeman in the event of a late-night emergency after residents voted to fund an on-call program within the Grantham Police Department during a swift Town Meeting that had been postponed due to inclement weather.

Voters approved spending $49,500 to keep one Grantham police officer on call after hours, a move that will reduce the town’s reliance on state police and improve response time.

Before the vote, Grantham Police Chief John Parsons asked residents to weigh whether they were happy with the police services they currently are receiving after hours or whether they wished for a change in that response. New Hampshire state troopers currently respond to calls when Grantham officers are off duty.

“That is what this is all about, to give the town a voice on whether or not they are satisfied with coverage in town,” Parsons said.

Several people spoke on the article, and although most said they were in favor of it, a few expressed reservations.

Resident Tod Lloyd said the additional money is a sizable amount and he cautioned that the program could put a strain on the four full-time officers in town.

“If you are on call all of the time that you are off duty, you are asking a lot of your officers. I’m sure they are up to the task, but I am concerned about the repetitiveness of being on call,” said Lloyd, who wasn’t alone in that thought. “I (also) am very concerned that we are adding 10 percent to the police budget for the foreseeable future.”

New Hampshire State Police Trooper Drew Keith, who is a Grantham resident with decades of law enforcement experience, spoke in favor of having a Grantham officer on duty around the clock. Overnight, there generally are two troopers assigned to Sullivan County, and if both of them are tied up on the other side of the county, response time could be hours long, he said.

He also said a Grantham officer likely wouldn’t be called into action on every shift, adding “it is only going to come out of your pockets when they get called out.”

Under the approved structure, the on-call officer will be paid minimum wage, and if and when the officer gets called out, he will be paid the normal rate plus overtime.

If the on-call program puts an undue burden on the patrol staff, Parsons said he will discontinue it and any remaining money would roll into the general fund.

Voters on Tuesday night also approved two other articles related to the police department.

First, they agreed to enter into a three-year, $65,000 lease/purchase of a 2018 Ford Expedition cruiser to replace an aging vehicle.

Second, voters approved using $145,000 in surplus money to pay for upgraded radio communications equipment that will be used by both the police and fire departments.

With little discussion, voters approved the Selectboard’s proposed $4.1 million municipal and highway budget, which represented a 6.6 percent increase in spending. Other upgrades for the police department are included, such as money to buy new cruiser cameras, as well as “ballistic helmets” and body-armor vests known as “plate carriers.”

All other articles passed, including one that will allow the fire department to purchase two thermal imaging cameras and three automatic external defibrillators ($19,000). In addition, voters approved holding a household hazardous waste collection day this summer ($10,000).

Only one amendment was made to an article during the meeting, and it entailed adding $10,000 to the library building repair capital reserve fund for heating improvements in the children’s area. Voters approved the amendment, which was part of the Capital Reserve and Expendable Trust Funds article.

Voters agreed to pay the final $31,600 payment for the town’s 2014 highway plow truck, and take $65,000 from surplus to purchase the land and buildings located just south of the fire station off Route 10. Just what will be done with the space remains to be seen, but Selectman Warren Kimball said that area is believed to be the only remaining parcel to create a second entrance to the Grantham Village School.

Resident Claudia Cozens-Hoffman urged her fellow voters to approve the purchase, saying “it is on the parents’ minds” that there is only one exit at the school.

“It would be nice to have a separate way out,” she said.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.




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