By David Petrucci
I think the police department and its union members understand where the EGFD and their union is coming from when they speak of lack of manpower. Although we operate a little bit differently than the fire department, our staffing and the number of police officers in town directly correlates to response time and our ability to handle the seasonal and daily influx of calls for service.
The police department has been operating with three patrol officers on the road/responding to calls since 1982. Thankfully in 1989 a supervisor was added to the ranks of each shift through contract negotiations, making it a minimum of three patrol officers and one station supervisor per shift.
The problem is, the police department has been operating at that same staffing level since that 1989 contract. In 1989 the population of East Greenwich was about 11,000. Since then, the population of EG has gone up 31 percent to 14,312 according to the most recent census data. East Greenwich was the second-fastest growing municipality in Rhode Island over the last 10 years just behind Central Falls and as anyone can plainly see, the town is rapidly growing with high occupancy buildings being built on Middle Road to the Hill and Harbor District. Of course, none of this census data includes daily visitors to the large number of medical buildings that have moved to town recently or the students that commute to and live on campus at New England Tech.
It is the opinion of the police union that we are understaffed and this is something that we will try to reconcile at our upcoming contract negotiations. Police departments in general are having a difficult time getting applicants, but to have the same staffing as we did over 30 years ago in one of R.I.’s most affluent towns is something that needs to be rectified both for the residents of East Greenwich but also for the men and women at the East Greenwich Police Department. Hopefully this is something our union and the town can work on to better assist our residents when needed.”
David Petrucci is a sergeant in the EG Police Department and president of IBPO Local #472.