The City of Lawrence has issued a press release detailing Mayor William Lantigua’s plan to combat recent violence in the city. Starting with the immediate rehiring of 5 police officers from the state layoff list and giving Police Chief John Romero instructions to use “all necessary resources” to show a strong police presence in the city’s entertainment areas.
According to the release, Mayor Lantigua has
“1) Instructed Personnel Director to reinstate 5 Police Officers immediately from Lay-off list (a supplemental budget in October, along with anticipated grants will address this funding).
“2) Instructed Police Chief John Romero to use all necessary resources, until further notice, to show a strong Police presence in the entertainment areas during peak weekend hours. This shall include use of the Mobile command center, motorcycle units, bicycles and foot patrol by both our Patrol division and our Auxiliary division.
“3) Requesting our Fire Department and Inspectional Services Department to monitor occupancy of all establishments over the weekends to ensure compliance.
“4) Requesting Licensing Commission Enforcement Officers to monitor all establishments to ensure compliance with T.I.P.S. (Training Intervention Procedures by Servers). “
Last year the city lost 40 police officers from its ranks, leading to the elimination of the gang unit, the drug unit, and the robbery apprehension team.
According to the Lawrence Eagle Tribune,
“Leaders from the city’s two police unions welcomed the restoration of police officer positions, but said it was far from enough to make the department as effective as it was before last year’s layoffs.
“It’s too little too late,” said Alan Andrews, the patrolmen’s union president. “The Lawrence Patrolmen’s Association will appreciate any additional manpower but anything short of full restoration is still too short.
“Effective policing is proactive not reactive,” he said.
Sgt. Scott McNamara, president of the Lawrence Police Superior Officer’s Association, called it “a small step in the right direction.”
“I applaud the mayor for making it, but the problems the city of Lawrence is now facing are quickly becoming more of a regional issue and less of a local one,” McNamara said.”
Lawrence was forced to call for assistance from Methuen and State police last Sunday morning after approximately 800 unruly people flooded downtown streets leading to a near riot. One firefighter was bitten while attending to a victim and a woman’s face was severely sliced with a razor blade while other women pinned her to the ground.
Speaking to the Eagle Tribune, Chief Romero said called the news “very positive.”
“I appreciate any officers I get back. Getting five officers back is a great start and is going to help us,” Romero said. “But hopefully, we’ll get all our officers back and get back to doing the proactive things we did before, which reduced crime in Lawrence by 60 percent and kept it there for almost seven years.
“The best way to deal with crime is to prevent it from happening in the first place — and that requires having the officers that we had before,” Romero said.