By Katy Rogers
The Everett City Council Public Safety Committee met with Chief Steve Mazzie and Patrolman Jeff McCabe, president of the Patrolmen’s Union, on Thursday evening, March 24, in the Council Chambers for an in-depth discussion regarding police staffing and the upcoming Wynn casino.
Currently the department is budgeted for 100 officers, but it is understaffed by three positions. The budget includes all departments within the Police Station, and 71 of these officers are Patrolman.
In anticipation of the Wynn Casino opening within the next three years, and the natural increase of population within the city, some postulate that Everett will require more police hirings to accommodate an increase in traffic and petty crime. Wynn has promised $5 million for the purposes of public safety, to be allocated between police, fire, and EMT services upon opening the resort, which would ideally relieve the expense from the city.
Added to that is the projected population for 2020, which is predicted to be 47,155, and it is recommended that Everett hire between 27-49 new officers to accommodate the expected 20,274 additional visitors per day when Wynn Boston Harbor opens. According to the Department of Justice, 2.3 to 2.7 officers per 1,000 people is recommended.
“In the greater Boston area right now, we are the smallest police personnel,” said Chief Mazzie. “Granted some of the cities are larger geographically. Chelsea, Everett, Somerville, and Malden are amongst the top 100 densest populated cities in the United States of America.”
It has been noted that Chelsea – smaller in population carries around 90 to 100 officers, and Revere has about 80 to 90 officers.
The Chief said he would like to hire no more than 10 officers per year in order to assure smooth integration within the department.
However, with the expectation of Wynn Boston Harbor opening by 2019, and a current slightly understaffed department, this could potentially leave the police department with a game of catch up, some worry.
That said, the issues requiring police services at the Wynn Resort are not expected to be major. Chief Mazzie compared Wynn Boston Harbor to the Gateway Mall, where police are called frequently to address small issues, including people getting locked out of their cars, missing credit cards, domestic arguments, traffic issues, and shoplifting. With the nature of the Wynn Resort being a 24 hour operation, it is expected that many of these occurrences will take place during overnight hours; a change of pattern for Everett. He described this as the tourist effect. Simply put, more people in one place require more police services, and with a major hotel like Wynn in the city, more emergency services will be required at all hours.
As a result, Chief Mazzie and Patrolman McCabe explained that with up to 10 new police personnel per year, some would be new recruits, requiring approximately 12 months of training to earn their badges, while others would be lateral transfers requiring less extensive time to transfer into the Everett force.
Councilor Fred Capone commented that everyone would like to see more officers on the street.
“Public safety is a top priority,” he said. “I don’t think anyone on the Council would disagree that we would like to see more patrolman on the street.”
While the committee meeting itself panned out smoothly, many individuals on all sides of the issue voiced their concerns after the fact.
Some worried that the police are already understaffed, particularly during evening hours, and have not laid out an extensive plan to prepare for the upcoming Wynn development.
Others have expressed concern that the range of 27-49 new officers is questionable because of the wide range in numbers.
More clarity on the matter is expected to come forth in a follow-up meeting in April when Mayor Carlo DeMaria is expected to provide more input from the administration.