The May 24 meeting of the Public Safety Commission finally hit GCTV’s YouTube channel yesterday. It was a relatively brief meeting, clocking in just under forty minutes:
With Amy McMahan joining the commission1, the body is back up to its full contingent of five members. Based on various comments throughout this meeting, it sounds like they have been down a commissioner for some time.
The commission elected new officers at this meeting. Daniel Lanoie is now the chair, and David Moscaritolo is now vice-chair. There was less enthusiasm for the position of secretary, but Ed Jarvis eventually nominated himself.
The rep from AMR (the company that Greenfield contracts with for ambulance service) had no major updates. Three new paramedics just out of school are on their way to the Greenfield service. AMR provides 24/7 operations with 2 ambulances; peak hours (11a-7p) are augmented by 1-2 additional ambulances, with demand reviewed on a 12-week schedule. AMR is in the midst of migrating their logging service, so they were not able to provide data reports at this time. There were no questions for AMR from the commissioners.
Chief Haigh reported that “all 10 seats are filled” but the people are not all yet “in the building.” He noted that the budget vote did not go the way that he wanted and says they will be addressing that over the coming months. Dispatch was one of the FY24 budget line items reduced by the City Council two weeks ago to free up funding for the schools.
Haigh says that the construction project at the station are moving along—it has gone out for RFP and bills are starting to come in for the work that has been done so far. The date for “the move” is in the first week of July. There were further questions for Chief Haigh from the commissioners, and Deputy Chief Gordon remained silent throughout.
Chief Strahan did not have any major updates. He ran through call statistics (which were fairly stable month-over-month) and noted that overtime has been down significantly this past month. Nonetheless, the department will be coming to the City Council to request the transfer of an additional $100k from general funds to cover a gap in their operating budget. $70k of that is due to overtime, although they originally thought OT would be more in the range of $150-200k over budget. Apparently they were able to bring that number down via “some corrections and some changes,” but Strahan did not provide any further details.
The rest of the additional money would be needed, Strahan reported, to cover emergency purchases due equipment failures. Here we had the only question for Strahan, which came from (now) vice-chair Moscaritolo, asking whether if breakdowns are a result “of the environment it’s in,” suggesting the temporary fire station as a cause. Strahan only noted that equipment was used and that it came from the old fire station.
Closing out his updates, Chief Strahan gave a lengthy description of a recent call on which the fire depart collaborated with the police and CSO to provide assistance to a resident in need of help.
Describing the difficulty of the situation and the care and compassion of all of the city’s responders, Strahan said that he could not be prouder of the city’s public safety agencies. He added, “I wish people in the city could see what I saw that day,” to which the mayor, joining via Zoom smiled and nodded along.
Commissioner Moscaritolo responded that he appreciated Strahan relaying this story, thanking “all three departments for bringing up situations and stories so that we can educate not only the commission, but also the people of Greenfield.”
Chief Haigh did not comment on any call statistics, instead noting that new officer onboarding is moving along. He characterized the budget as “as tight as humanly possible,” also mentioning that “our vehicles are breaking down” and that they’re not going to get any new ones.
Responding to a question from Commissioner Moscaritolo, Haigh said the department currently has 24-hour coverage by one deputy from the Sheriff’s office and that that arrangement has worked out better than he had expected. That coverages runs until the end of June, but may end sooner if the Sheriff needs the deputies back to cover vacations.
Comments from the mayor and commissioners and adjournment
Mayor Wedegartner thanked Commissioner Clark for his service; he is departing at the end of this month. She went on to say that it is wonderful to see Chief Haigh, Deputy Chief Gordon, and Chief Strahan there at the table, calling it “very heartwarming” to see the commission “after all of the strife that we have been through working through things.”
Commissioner (and now Chair) Lanoie commended the mayor “for the My Turn that you wrote” and her “very articulate response to another budget question that came up during the week.” He went on at some length, praising her handling of the budget questions. The mayor responded she is “humbled by that” and thanked Commissioner Lanoie.
Commissioner Jarvis spoke up to thank City Councilors Guin, Forgey, Healy, Elmer, and Rickets for their “support in the budget.” Jarvis called it “very hard to listen to some of the philosophies on that Council on that.” Saying that he was appalled by “teachers clapping in the background” because another department got cut, Jarvis added says “they should be ashamed.”
Commissioner Moscaritolo then reiterated his public comment from the last City Council meeting, declaring that the community needs to be more sympathetic toward our first responders and respect them as human beings.
With that, the commission voted to adjourn the meeting.
In a previous version of this post, I had expressed some confusion due to the city website still listing Amy’s seat as vacant. Thanks to a commenter who noted that Amy’s appointment to the commission is permanent, confirmed last month. I had also mis-spelled her last name, a mistake that I have now corrected. ↩︎