October 5, 2021, 7:00 (see Town Calendar for log-in info)
Sharing Police Services – A Synopsis
This project was initiated by Wendell. A few years ago, Wendell’s long time police chief announced his retirement and Wendell received a grant to work with consultants on possible next steps for their town. One of the possibilities for them was an Inter-Municipal Agreement (IMA) with another town to contract for police services. This option appealed to Wendell so they contacted Leverett in 2019 and since then Leverett’s Selectboard member Julie Shively and Police Chief Scott Minckler have been attending the Wendell Police Department Succession Committee Meetings and working out an agreement.
Leverett started providing police services for Wendell in October 2020 under a temporary Memorandum of Understanding when the Wendell Chief retired sooner than expected. Late last year Leverett applied for and received a grant to finalize the IMA with the help of the Collins Center from UMass Boston. This process is nearing an end.
Currently Wendell pays Leverett in a quarterly assessment. The assessment for Wendell is based on their police budget as passed at town meeting. Wendell’s’ FY 22 budget was developed with input from Chief Minckler.
Another alternative would be to regionalize the police force but that would involve creating a police commission and hiring a police commissioner – another layer of bureaucracy that would add to the cost and complications of the project.
Questions ahead of the Oct. 5th meeting are welcome – please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
The following are highlights of the draft Inter- Municipal Agreement (IMA):
Leverett is the “host municipality”, meaning that Wendell is contracting with Leverett to provide police services. Hiring and police department policies are finalized by the Leverett Selectboard. Leverett covers the cost of the police force and in return gets income to cover a portion of the costs from Wendell. There are provisions in the agreement for Wendell to be involved in hiring screening committees for new police staff and to provide input on police policies but the ultimate decision-making power lies with the Leverett Selectboard.
A Police Services Oversight Committee will be established. The membership of it consists of a Selectboard member, a Finance Committee member and a community representative from each town to be appointed by the respective Selectboards. The purpose of this Committee will be to review quarterly data; deliberate and make advisory recommendations on the police budget; appoint members to the hiring screening committees; work to resolve issues of mutual concern between the towns and to provide support and guidance to the Chief of Police on them; develop terms and conditions for the admittance of prospective member towns that desire to become a party to the agreement in the future.
This Committee meets at least quarterly to review matters pertaining to police services.
Note: the Oversight Committee idea was taken from a similar agreement between other small towns in Western Mass. The difference being that the Oversight Committee in that agreement was comprised of the Selectboard members of the participating towns.
Here is how the IMA addresses the following issues:
Capital Assets: All vehicles, equipment, and supplies shall be considered the property of Leverett. Leverett is responsible for the maintenance of the equipment. Wendell will set aside money in its capital budget for the replacement of the cruiser signed over to Leverett. Should the agreement with Wendell be terminated, then the ownership of that vehicle will be transferred back to Wendell.
Addition of New Members: An affirmative vote of the Selectboard in the member communities is required to allow another town to participate in the agreement. The Oversight Committee will be responsible for determining the terms. The new member town will be responsible for covering costs associated with joining the agreement.
Budget and Assessment: The budget for police services will be developed and managed by Leverett with recommendations from Wendell. The plan is to develop an assessment method which will be based on call volume when more historical data is available.
Posted: to General Town News on Tue, Sep 28, 2021
Updated: Tue, Sep 28, 2021