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Bedford Police Department
Annual Town Report Submission
John J. Bryfonski, Police Chief
I am pleased to present the following Annual Report that summarizes the accomplishments and achievements of your Bedford Police Department during 2018. As you review the data and information contained in our 2018 Annual Report you will be pleased to learn that crime and specifically certain property related crime has reached the lowest recorded level in decades. For example, in an outstanding achievement for the Department’s proactive patrol strategy one (1) burglary was reported during all of 2018 and NO commercial burglaries were reported during 2018. .
While even one (1) burglary is too many, for a suburban community the size of Bedford to sustain just one (1) burglary for a calendar year is a significant achievement especially in contrast to prior years when by comparison 60 burglaries were reported in 2009. A scant few years ago burglary had been the most frequently reported felony level crime in Bedford. Due to the focused work of both the Patrol Operations and Detective Divisions, burglary has fallen to the lowest reported level in decades and is now the least common felony crime reported in Bedford. This is but one example of harm reduction achieved during 2018.
The feeling of safety and security in one’s home or business is paramount for our residents and to have that sanctity violated undermines the quality of life for any resident. That is why the Department worked diligently to address this issue and achieve the level of safety and security our residents and business owners deserve and desired in 2018.
Achievements in crime and harm reduction typically do not occur in the short term or without a clear vision for the efficient and effective delivery of public safety services along with focused strategies, goals and objectives complemented by rigorous accountability and responsibility practices and procedures integrated with performance metrics. Our vision, mission statement, goals and objectives, processes and procedures that have now been in place for some time, which form the core of the Department, have produced continuous improvement in performance building on each year’s success to arrive at the results contained in this Annual Report.
As our residents know as well as anyone who visited or routinely drove in or through Bedford during 2018, it was a year of significant growth and improvement evinced by the myriad commercial, residential and road construction projects we weathered throughout the year. Each of these projects, especially the major reconstruction and improvement to Route 101 between Route 114 and Wallace Road, presented additional challenges for the Department during a time when we struggled, like all law enforcement agencies in NH and throughout the United States, to recruit, train and most importantly retain qualified, dedicated employees. The nationwide dearth of qualified applicants for law enforcement positions was felt in Bedford as the Department suffered significant staffing shortages throughout 2018 in both the Patrol Operations Division and the Communications Section of the Operations Support Division. Yet, despite these significant staffing challenges our dedicated employees rose to the occasion, extended themselves continually throughout the year, to achieve outstanding results in crime and harm reduction. Notwithstanding the challenges imposed by commercial and residential growth and expansion, staffing shortages and the concomitant challenges associated with recruitment and training new employees, the Department achieved outstanding results in harm reduction through proactive directed patrols, intensive traffic enforcement, aggressive criminal investigations and a robust community policing program that made Bedford one of the safest communities in the State of New Hampshire in 2018.
Crimes Against Property: As noted above, burglary, which had been the most prevalent felony crime investigated by the Department, was reduced to one (1) burglary during 2018. This is compared to a total of seven (7) residential burglaries and five (5) commercial burglaries during 2017 and down from 34 residential burglaries and 16 commercial burglaries in 2011.
The stunning reduction in both residential and commercial burglaries over the past several years was built upon the Department’s proactive, data-driven, patrol strategy complemented by surge operations conducted by members assigned to the Administration and Detective Divisions. In addition, aggressive investigation into reports of suspicious activity by our residents encouraged by the Department’s “Keep an Eye on Bedford/See Something – Say Something” campaign as well as our neighborhood watch program and increased visible patrols in our residential areas resulted in a successful “team” effort by our residents and the Department that resulted in this success, which is consistent with the nationwide reduction in property crime.
In addition to the overall decline in burglary, other property crimes such as robbery (one (1) robbery (cleared by arrest)) and shoplifting (21% reduction in 2018 on top of a 40% reduction in 2017) also reflected significant reductions in 2018. While theft from motor vehicles reflected an increase in 2018 compared to 2017 (20 v. 37/+17) by comparison thefts from motor vehicles was down 310% over the previous four (4) years. The majority of thefts from motor vehicles in Bedford arose from unlocked/unattended vehicle(s) from which mostly loose change but in some rare cases expensive property was taken. The increase in thefts from motor vehicles in 2018 was almost exclusively due to two (2) subjects who were ultimately identified and arrested in July after some fine work by the Patrol Operations Division. The subject(s) arrested and responsible for the majority of the thefts from motor vehicles in Bedford were substance abusers, which highlight the continued cross-over impact of the substance abuse problem in NH.
All other larceny related cases also reflected a sharp 31% reduction in 2018 when compared to 2017.
In summary, crimes against property was down significantly when compared to 2017 and remarkably below prior years in all categories.
Crimes Against Persons: In contrast to the declines in crime(s) against property, the more difficult category of crimes against persons to affect through proactive patrols reflected increases in all four (4) classes of assaults. The Department responded to and investigated 161 domestic related assaults/calls for service in 2018 for an overall 18% increase in domestic/family disputes compared to last year. As you may know, domestic/family violence calls for service are resource intensive due to citizen and officer life safety concerns and the documentation requirements associated with these cases and resultant investigations. For example, virtually all active domestic calls for service require a two (2) officer response, which represents 50% of our patrol shift when fully staffed, as well as our patrol supervisor. Many of these investigations are lengthy and involve arrests as well as mandatory threat assessments; therefore, the 18% increase in these calls over the past year affected the Department’s ability to maintain adequate patrol coverage.
Assaults classified as “sexual assaults” which also include all cases that involve the illegal possession/dissemination of illicit images of juveniles reflected a sharp 55% increase on the year when compared to 2017 (18 v. 28/+10). All of the sexual assault cases opened in 2018 involved subjects known or acquainted to each other and many involved the alleged illicit dissemination of sexually explicit images of and by juveniles. All of the sexual assault related cases including the dissemination of illicit images are vigorously investigated by the Detective Division, many of which resulted in arrests and or juvenile petitions. The majority of the increase in this classification of assault case stem from investigations into the dissemination of illicit images of juveniles. In order to address the root cause of these kinds of cases Detective Matthew J. Fleming conducted a number of informational seminars for parents and teens that underscore the threats posed by inappropriate and unsupervised use of various social media applications/devices.
The next classification of crimes against persons reflected a 25% increase in low-level “simple” assaults when compared to 2017 (44 v. 55/+11).
The fourth classification of assault, which constitute more serious, felony level, cases reflected an increase of two (2) cases on the year for a total of six (6); up from four (4) in 2017.
In summary, we observed an increase in crimes against persons during 2018; while many of these cases involved “simple” assaults and domestic/family disputes where no official action was taken, the sharp increase in sexual assault related cases is cause for concern especially given the number of cases that involved alleged sexual assaults that involved both juvenile suspect(s) and victim(s) as well as the numbers of cases that involved the dissemination of illicit images of juveniles. This category of criminality is nearly impossible to “defend against” using proactive patrol; the primary tool that is available to us. However, we have addressed these issues with proactive community policing programs especially with respect to targeting parents and teens for informative seminars regarding the threats posed by social media and in working with the Bedford School District through our highly effective School Resource Officer (SRO) program.
Importantly, none of the sexual assault cases opened in 2018 involved random act(s) of alleged sexual violence by subject(s) unknown to the victim.
Miscellaneous Crime: This category of crime includes the sub-classifications of criminal mischief, disorderly conduct, fraud, and harassment. Last year the Department achieved a 15% reduction in criminal mischief related calls, a slight 3% reduction in disorderly conduct and fraud calls for service while harassment calls increased by 11 calls for service, a 35% increase and sex offender registrations increased by 14, which represents a 44% increase in the number of sex offenders registered on a quarterly basis in Bedford [Note: The number of sex offender registrations is not the same as the number of sex offenders residing in Bedford, which may change on a monthly basis due to registration requirements.] In a four (4) year comparison, criminal mischief/vandalism cases have been reduced by 44% since 2015.
Drug Investigations: Despite a slight reduction in the number of predicted drug overdose deaths in NH for 2018, the state unfortunately remains within the grip of the most significant substance abuse and deadly opioid addiction crisis in history.
During 2018 the Bedford Police Department initiated 113 drug investigations representing an overall 16.5% increase compared to 2017.
A total of 10 drug related overdose cases (ODs) were reported during 2018, the same number of ODs in 2017; however, three (3) ODs in 2018 resulted in fatalities compared one (1) fatality in all of 2017.
Preliminarily, the NH Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OME) is predicting a slight decrease (437) in fatal ODs in NH for 2018 down from 488 in 2017 representing a slight 10% reduction, which is almost the same number of fatal ODs in 2015 (439). The four (4) year trend analysis suggests the state fatal OD rate has “plateaued” if not dropped slightly; certainly no cause for celebration as opioid emergency room visits and treatment admissions in 2018 continued unabated and remained relatively stable all year as did the administration of Naloxone (Narcan). All Bedford Police cruisers are equipped with Narcan and all Patrol Operations Division officers are trained to administer Narcan, which was deployed by our officers on several occasions during 2018.
Drug intelligence as well as 2018 trend analysis indicates an increase in Mexican sourced methamphetamine as well as a return to powdered cocaine (HCL) and cocaine base (crack cocaine (HCL/b)) as perceived less lethal alternatives to heroin/fentanyl. Increased supply of potent Mexican-sourced methamphetamine is particularly disturbing as chronic use induces extreme paranoia and often leads to violent behavior with a nexus to domestic violence related cases.
In a review of the most recent (2017) Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) data for Bedford, which compares the responses of Bedford students to those of the region and state we find particularly disturbing news as the number and percent of students in Bedford who reported they ever used heroin (5.3%/79 students) exceeds both the region (2.7%) and statewide numbers (1.8%). In fact, by comparison, the number of Bedford students who reported they ever used heroin in 2017 (79) was up from 57 in 2015; a 38% increase and represents almost four (4) classrooms of students. Additionally disturbing data from the 2017 YRBS (released in the spring of 2018) indicated the number and percent of Bedford students who reported they ever used methamphetamine (5.1%/76 students) also exceeded both the region (3.1%) and state totals (1.8%). In addition, the number and percent of Bedford students who reported use of MDMA (ecstasy or “Molly”) at a shocking 6.2% (92 students) far exceeded the region (3.3%) and state numbers (3.0%).
During 2018 the Department directed a number of Patrol Operations Division officers to attend drug interdiction training to increase our capability in detecting, interdicting and investigating the distribution of illicit controlled drugs. In addition, Department in-service training for Patrol Operations Division officers by our Detective Division as well as the initiation of our new Tactical Patrol Unit led to an increase in the number of drug interdiction arrests as well as drug investigations, as noted above.
During 2018 an uptick in drug related activity was observed principally at hotels consistent with the experience of other departments in the region. Intensive proactive patrols by our Patrol Operations Division officers and detectives as well as efforts to enjoin management in assisting our efforts to stem drug related activity produced significant results over the year. One of these investigations, initiated by the Patrol Operations Division, which later involved the Detective Division and our detective assigned to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Task Force, led to the arrest and dismantlement of a very significant drug trafficking organization (DTO) that ranged from NH to California. This case, led by our detective assigned to the DEA Task Force, capitalized on a drug case initiated by the Patrol Operations Division, which involved controlled purchases of evidence as well as extensive surveillance operations in NH, Maine and search warrants in Manchester by the DEA Task Force, which ultimately led to the seizure of 12 firearms (including those on the person of the principal subject when arrested) marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine and various licit controlled drugs. The principal subject involved in this case was responsible for the distribution of significant quantities of Mexican-sourced methamphetamine; some of the seizures had a purity level of 100%. Other significant cases initiated by our Patrol Operations Division officers and Detective Division led to several significant arrests and seizures of distribution quantities of controlled drugs as well as firearms including those in the possession of subjects when arrested.
The Department will continue to focus intensive proactive and tactical patrols as well as investigative efforts by our detectives in and around the hotels, which seemingly have become the location of choice by many DTOs operating in NH. The success the Department enjoyed in these cases stymied some of the drug activity at these hotels and the extensive investigations conducted by the DEA Task Force, a significant “force multiplier” for us, will drive this kind of activity out of Bedford. One of the major components of “keeping the pressure on” is the ability to field a full-time Tactical Patrol Unit to address specific patrol related issues including but not limited to drug trafficking but also other property related crime and traffic enforcement issues. Currently, staffing shortages precludes this unit from full-time operation. The Department will also continue our work with BeBOLD (Bedford Building Our Lives Drug-free Substance Misuse Coalition) on the prevention side of the drug equation and continue to leverage our work with the School District to increase and improve substance abuse education in K-12.
The Department continued to offer its innovative “Police Partners Program” or “P3”; a different approach, from “Safe Station” programs where addicts voluntarily present themselves for help at a fire station. Our “P3” addresses those who suffer with an acute addiction disorder who came to the attention of the Police Department by way of an arrest or call for service. In these cases, our officers determine if the underlying cause of the crime or call is due to an addiction disorder. If so, we offer the services of our partner, Hope 4 NH Recovery, by using the window of opportunity at that moment, which caused the police to respond. The “P3” leverages these moments of opportunity to strongly encourage the individual to accept our offer to refer them to Hope 4 NH Recovery who will dispatch a “recovery coach” to the Department and transport them directly to treatment.
Additionally, the Bedford Police Department Crisis Intervention Team (CIT); specially trained officers to assist persons and families in any type of crisis (substance misuse, domestic violence, mental health, etc.), are dispatched to follow up each drug overdose incident with a view to encourage the involved person to seek treatment. The Department’s (CIT) logged a total of 57 referral cases during 2018.
Our mission is to assure the safety and security of Bedford and to make it the best place in New Hampshire to live, work, conduct business and enjoy life. While the Bedford Police Department achieved outstanding success during 2018 in lowering crime to record levels, we also strive to ensure residents and visitors feel safe and secure through our community policing programs. As our community sits astride the largest city in the state and at the crossroads of major interstate and connector routes, we are continually challenged in many ways to achieve this mission. From increased local and regional commercial and residential expansion that exacerbates traffic congestion and commuter travel to spill-over crime, we are cognizant these issues impact the quality of life and so we are aggressively addressing these concerns in a multi-layered, all-hazards approach that relies on statistics, data, performance metrics, accountability, responsibility and a community-based approach as well as our optimally trained and dedicated force to achieve our mission to protect and serve every day, every night and everywhere - all the time in keeping with our BPD tradition of Bravery –Professionalism-Dedication.
Patrol Operations Division:
The Bedford Police Department’s Patrol Operations Division, the largest component of the agency and the primary operational element for the delivery of police services to the public, is responsible for not only answering calls for service from you, the public, but it is also charged with our principal mission of preventing and deterring crime and harm. Additionally, we call upon our Patrol Operations Division officers to investigate crime and collisions as well as perform community policing related missions. To accomplish these goals, the Patrol Operations Division relies upon the best-trained, dedicated and professional cadre of police officers anywhere.
Highway Safety and Patrol: Preventative and deterrent proactive patrol remains the cornerstone of the Division’s mission to address both crime and highway safety in Bedford. The utilization of data-driven analytics combined with community-based policing, aggressive investigation and our performance measurement program (COMP/Stat) afforded the surgical application of resources to address both crime and highway safety related issues. By using data analytics and directed highway patrols augmented by overtime patrols funded through the Department’s participation in the Department of Public Safety’s Highway Safety Grant Program, the Patrol Operations Division actually reduced the number of motor vehicle crashes in Bedford. In fact, despite a projected increases in average miles driven over that time span, the total number of collisions in 2018 (653) represented an overall 5% reduction in reported crashes last year.
2018 was the first full-year under the Department’s new Traffic Management Safety Plan, which was issued to all Patrol Operations Division personnel. This comprehensive document provides officers with guidance to achieve the Department’s mission, goals and objectives regarding highway safety and associated harm reduction through vigorous enforcement of those violations that cause most of the personal injury related crashes in Bedford. In fact, a study completed by the Patrol Operations Division in 2018 determined the number one (1) cause of most crashes in Bedford was Distracted Driving. As a result, special emphasis was placed on distracted driving/hands free violations in 2018. The number of summonses for distracted driving reflected a remarkable 100% increase from 2017 to 2018 with (300 v. 612); which was largely due to the efforts of our Patrol Officers and especially Field Training Officer (FTO) Scott E. Norris, who is one of the most active officers in addressing this violation in Bedford.
Our key metric, personal injury related crashes, reflected a reduction compared to last year when using the Department’s legacy data analysis from our records management system (RMS/IMC); however, the Department transitioned to a new and more accurate methodology of capturing data related to personal injury (PI) related crashes in 2018. The change was precipitated by a review of data obtained from our RMS and a comparison to other data and reports, which suggested the qualifying determinant for classifying PI-related crashes was inconsistent. Thus, the final year end PI related metric for 2018 will reflect a significant 27% increase in PI crashes but this is largely due to the change in data acquisition and analytics; using the legacy scheme you would see a 48% decline in PI related crashes. We anticipate our data for PI related crashes in 2019 will be precise and accurately reflect whether an occupant or involved person was in fact injured as opposed to initial reports.
Despite our emphasis on highway safety the Department investigated two (2) fatal motor vehicle crashes in 2018; an increase of two (2) from 2017; both fatal(s) were single vehicle crashes and both fatal(s) involved alcohol as a contributing factor in the crash.
The Department’s Technical Accident Reconstruction Team investigates all fatal motor vehicle accidents as well as serious bodily injury crashes and continues to be a significant asset to the Department’s traffic enforcement/investigation mission. Led by Patrol Operations Division Sergeant (SGT) Devon N. Kimball and assisted by Field Training Officer (FTO) Robert G. Lavoie and staff, our highly trained and equipped Technical Accident Reconstruction Team is often cited as an example of the very best in accident reconstruction and investigation by the County Attorney’s Office. While we hope to never have to call out our Technical Accident Reconstruction Team, their expertise and extensive skill sets are invaluable in the reconstruction of accidents and the determination of causal factor(s) as well as vital in bringing the very best case forward for prosecution when required.
The increase in driving while intoxicated/impaired (DWI) related fatal(s) occurred despite an increase in the number of Department as well as Office of Highway Safety grant-funded DWI patrols in 2018 by our Patrol Operations Division. For example, officers made seven (7) DWI arrests in December; up from two (2) in December 2017; however, the total number of DWI arrests in 2018 were down 11% (9 arrests) from 2017 (80 v. 71) largely due to a significant reduction in available patrol hours during the 2nd quarter of 2018 stemming from a reduction in staffing and ongoing field training activities that affected traffic enforcement. The 28% decline in DWI arrests through the 2nd quarter was largely reduced by more than half in the 3rd and 4th quarters of the year through increased focus and proactive patrols permitted by increased staffing.
Notwithstanding staffing and field training challenges during 2018, Patrol Operations Division officer(s) were able to sustain the 58% increase in motor vehicle summonses issued during 2017 and bested that by another 2.2% in 2018 with 2,915 citations issued along with another 4,831 warnings to motorists.
In recognition of the Bedford Police Department’s achievements in traffic safety and enforcement the NH Department of Safety, Office of Highway Safety, presented the Department with its distinguished Highway Safety Award in “recognition of exceptional, service, devotion to duty and outstanding contribution to the Office of Highway Safety in which under grant funded enforcement projects, the Bedford Police Department increased its enforcement efforts and deterrent factor substantially in the Town of Bedford.”
Unlike other communities, Route 101, essentially an interstate highway handling a comparative volume of interstate traffic, becomes a two-lane road that bifurcates Bedford and presents quality of life challenges for our residents and the Department. The Department is also highly cognizant of the challenges commuters faced in 2018 in connection with the NH/DOT Route 101 improvement project between Route 114 and Wallace Road. The lane shift(s) and other associated construction traffic and delays exacerbated an already congested and delayed commute for thousands. The Department closely monitored Route 101 construction during 2018 with frequent contact with NH Department of Transportation (DOT) supervisors regarding safety related issues including but not limited to lane marking, conduct of “flaggers” that contributed to several “rear-ender” collisions, signage and the placement of construction vehicles that limited sight distance at intersections. Improvements were made in all these areas based on our recommendations and requests. In addition, the Department increased traffic enforcement patrols in all the road construction areas that were active during 2018 and as we all know there were many.
The continued overall reduction in crime and harm coupled with the sustained increase in motor vehicle enforcement and proactive officer initiated activity exemplifies the dedication and professionalism of the Patrol Operations Division’s officers and supervisors. To achieve these results, especially during staffing shortages and while training new personnel, necessitates greater effort and increased efficiency when confronted with additional calls for service.
During 2018, officer initiated activity increased by 4% on top of the 38% increase in 2017 for an additional 1,211 officer initiated actions. The focus on proactive, officer initiated, patrols as well as intense focus on performance metrics contributed to the success achieved by the Patrol Operations Division in keeping criminal activity at the lowest levels seen in history while simultaneously increasing traffic enforcement and maintaining community-policing programs during 2018.
Other notable achievements by the Patrol Operations Division during 2018 included the arrests of two (2) subjects responsible for the majority of the thefts from motor vehicles last year by Officers Matthew A. Proulx and Timothy S. Carter; the seizure of a significant quantity of controlled drugs and a firearm as well as the arrest of the subject responsible by Field Training Officer (FTO) Patrick J. Gilligan; the investigation that led to the Federal arrest and indictment of a subject responsible for the distribution and sale of multi-pound quantities of high grade Mexican-sourced methamphetamine in NH via California by Detective Kevin K. Sutter assigned to the DEA Task Force (case initiated by Patrol Operations Division officers); and Lifesaving Awards presented to FTO Gilligan who administered NARCAN to an unresponsive male overdose victim; and Officer Tony Ssonko who successfully performed CPR on a victim found in the road by a FEDEX driver and for persuading and preventing a suicidal female from jumping off the Plummer Road overpass into traffic.
These are but a few examples of the remarkable work accomplished by the Patrol Operations Division each day and night in Bedford during 2018 in providing the very best public safety services, safety and security as well as harm reduction and proactive data-driven visible patrols to achieve the results outlined above. This requires a highly motivated and trained workforce that is ready to face any public safety challenge to the safety and security of our residents and visitors combined with the best tools, practices, policies, procedures and industry-leading strategies with a “community policing/customer service orientation and culture” that minimizes liability exposure for the best return on every tax dollar invested in the Bedford Police Department.
The Detective Division is a key element in our strategy to ensure the safety and security of our residents and visitors. From the aggressive investigations of 143 criminal violations of felony and misdemeanor crime in 2018 as well as the prosecution by our Police Prosecutor, William G. Thornton, a member of the NH Bar Association, who is responsible for representing the Department and you, our residents, in presenting those cases before the District Court in Merrimack as well as presenting felony cases for indictment in Superior Court to the work of our two (2) School Resource Officers (SROs), William “Spike” Donahue and Danielle Nightingale, and the work by Detective Matthew J. Fleming on the NH Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force; Detective Sutter’s outstanding work on the DEA Task Force to reduce the supply of illicit drugs in our community to Detective Sergeant Michael J. Monahan’s work in supervising to the Division and in providing superior tactical training to the Bedford School District, Town Employees and our business community to Division Commander Detective Lieutenant Michael K. Griswold who not only leads the Division but also coordinates the Department’s Citizen Academy each year, the Detective Division, despite its meager staffing, was critical to the overall success of the Department and its mission.
Amongst the 143 criminal cases investigated by the Detective Division in 2018 was the arrest of the subject responsible for the singular drug-related robbery that occurred last year. Additionally, detectives identified the subject responsible for an arson fire at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church during 2018 who is pending indictment as well as a number of other arrests that involved sexual assault(s), larcenies including the arrest of the subject responsible for several high value theft(s) from the Manchester Country Club and arrests for burglary and receiving stolen property that also involved the recovery of property stolen from our residents. As previously mentioned, Detective Sutter, capitalizing on information gleaned by Patrol Operations Division officers developed the case against the state’s most prolific trafficker of methamphetamine, which culminated in his arrest and Federal indictment as well as the dismantlement of his drug trafficking organization which spanned the country from Mexico to California to the streets of NH.
The Detective Division is also responsible for the administration of our highly successful School Resource Officer program at the Bedford High School/Middle School (SRO Donahue) and McKelvie Intermediate School/Elementary Schools (SRO Nightingale). The impressive results obtained from our SROs is difficult to quantify inasmuch as they play a key part as role models for students in K-12 as well as obtain and act on information that results in crisis intervention(s) or solves juvenile related crime, sometimes before its ever reported. It takes a special kind of police officer to be an effective SRO and we are pleased to report our SROs fit the bill and provide the very best public safety services to our students, parents and staff while providing a visible uniformed law enforcement presence on school campus in an age where school violence is so prevalent in the US.
In addition to the outstanding achievements of the Detective Division in criminal investigation, we would be remiss in not drawing attention to the significant amount of investigative work taken on by the Division in 2018 in furtherance of the Department’s recruitment and hiring efforts. Every new employee of the Department must undergo a full-field background investigation to ensure only the very best qualified candidates are hired by the Department. During 2018 the Detective Division conducted 12 such background investigations that included several polygraph examinations as well as onsite investigation(s) in Washington, DC and Maryland as well as Massachusetts and all throughout NH that consumed more than 1,000 hours of investigative resources from our Detective Division; no small undertaking.
Along with investigative achievements the Detective Division was very active in community policing related programs during 2018. The Division is responsible for coordinating our ongoing drug take back and drug disposal program as well as working with DEA on its nationwide drug take back events each April and September. As a result of this program, the Detective Division accumulated several hundred pounds of unused and unwanted prescription drugs that were properly disposed of and thus prevented from falling into the wrong hands. We want to remind our residents that the Bedford Police Department maintains a drug disposal box in the lobby of the Bedford Police Station at 55 Constitution Drive that is available 24/7/365 for the disposal of unused and unwanted prescription drugs (no needles and no liquids please).
Probably the most well-known and most popular of all the Department’s community policing programs (and there are many) is the Citizen Academy coordinated and presented each March-May by the Detective Division with assistance and support from the Patrol Operations and Operations Support Divisions. This 10-week “hands-on” interactive exposure to law enforcement provides key insights to not only law enforcement per se but especially the work and challenges faced by Bedford Police officers each day and night. The number of “students” is limited by the interactive nature of the program that puts you in the driver’s seat of a Bedford Police cruiser and in “tactical shoot-don’t shoot” scenarios using the same gear our officers use during their training exercises. Also included in the program is the Bedford Police “CSI” course that gives each student hands-on experience with real “CSI” methods used by our detectives as well as interview and interrogation training and a moot court session at the Merrimack District Court and familiarization with all our weapons platforms on the range.
The Detective Division also provides tactical training and emergency operations/security assessments for the community. During 2018, Detective SGT Monahan assisted by other instructors began a comprehensive training program for all Bedford School District personnel to improve their response to a violent threat to safety in our schools. This is a significant “lift” for our staff inasmuch as we have committed to providing this training to more than 700 school district staff with reoccurring training for new staff and para-professionals before each school year. While a significant burden for the Department it is one that must be borne to ensure school personnel have the skill sets necessary to respond to an active attack on campus. In addition to providing active attack training for the Bedford School District our instructors also provided such training to several businesses in Bedford during 2018 as well as beginning a comprehensive security assessment of all Town facilities and training for Town employees.
Social media predation is a serious problem nationwide and no less so in Bedford where we investigated a number of cases mostly involving the illicit dissemination of images of juveniles. The work by Detective Fleming on these cases for both the Department as well as in his role as a member of the NH ICAC Task Force is well known and respected across the state. During 2018 Detective Fleming was responsible for successful efforts to eliminate illicit images of Bedford high school students from a website based in South America as well as providing education and training for students and parents related to the potential threats posed by unsupervised access to social media. The connection between social media predation and human trafficking is strong, which is why Detective Fleming led the effort to produce “Hiding in Plain Sight” a summit on human trafficking that brought together professionals from Federal, state and local law enforcement, prosecutors and social services as well as a real victim of human trafficking who provided the audience the facts about human trafficking that is real and evident right here in our own community.
The Bedford Police Department’s Detective Division is a “full service” division that led the way in criminal investigations during 2018 as well as provided highly effective community policing and SRO programs.
Operations Support Division:
The management review of the Department’s organizational structure in 2017 that led to the reorganization of the Department in early 2018 revealed the need to consolidate all non-operational programs into one division. The result produced the new Operations Support Division under the command of Lieutenant (LT) Michael R. Bernard, which absorbed the former Communications and Records Division as well as the Community Policing Division, Recruitment, Training, Fleet Operations/Management, Police Details, Special Events, Statistical Analysis, Information Technology and Animal Control (ACO). Needless to say, the Operations Support Division is critical to the success of the Department’s mission across all divisions, programs, duties and responsibilities.
Communications: The largest component of the Operations Support Division, the Communications Section, is absolutely vital for the efficient, effective and safe delivery of timely public safety services, including Police, Fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS); all of which begins in our state of the industry Communications Center. Each vital call for service for Police, Fire or EMS starts in our Communications Center where a staff of eight (8) Communications Specialists work to obtain all the vital information necessary to dispatch required public safety services as efficiently as possible. The ComCenter provides the critical life-safety link between citizens, first responder(s) and Headquarters. The ComCenter forges the link between technology and field operations and is packed with technology, including our land mobile radio (LMR) network that serves both Police and Fire Departments from main and remote transmit/receive sites in and around Bedford. During 2018, the Communications Section installed new LMR equipment on the NH State Police Troop B communications tower on East Pointe Drive that will significantly improve the reliability of first responder communications in the growing southeast quadrant of Bedford. The Department will be activating our Troop B site in early 2019 pending installation of new equipment on the Station Road cellular tower that is required to connect Troop B to our main transmitter at the Public Safety Complex.
The ComCenter is also responsible for issuing public safety “alerts”, “advisory” and “community” messages via our “Nixle” platform. We now have more than 6,500 Nixle subscribers who receive up to the minute information direct to their mobile devices and/or email regarding traffic accidents, delays, special events, weather conditions, road conditions as well as Police and Fire related incidents that may affect safety or just travel. We also use Nixle to advise residents of upcoming community policing and other Town events, meetings and programs as well as important public safety advice, information and tips. Nixle provides notifications via text, email and reverse-dial telephone calls directly to your mobile and or home device(s) and its FREE. We strongly encourage residents to sign up to receive Nixles and to anonymously “text-to-tip” information to the Department 24/7/365. To sign up text “03110” to “888777” and follow the instructions. You can also go to the Department’s website and click “Media Resources” and look for the Nixle link to register. Remember to register your telephone number, cellular and or residential, to receive an emergency “reverse dial” message directly from the Bedford Police Department.
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Remember – Keep an Eye on Bedford - “See Something –Say Something”.
As any visitor and our Citizen Academy “graduates” know, the workload in the Communications Center can escalate in a mere matter of seconds to the point where even two (2) trained and experienced Communications Specialists are taxed to be able to handle call volume. Thus, it is vital that we maintain no less than two (2) Communications Specialists on duty during shifts where we experience the majority of our calls for service (all except those hours between 2A and 6A). Unfortunately, the Communications Section was stressed with significant staffing shortages throughout 2018; having two (2) positions vacant on average for the bulk of the year with new employees assigned to our Communications Training Program (CTP) under the guidance and supervision of Communications Training Officers (CTOs) Nina M. Malley and Raymond H. Menier. During 2018 we hired three (3) new probationary communications specialists; however, one trainee returned to her previous employer; another trainee failed to successfully complete the CTP and the third determined within a matter of a week that the challenge of the position was too great. As a result, our CTOs were doing double and “triple” duty while training new employees as well as handling routine workloads while all our dedicated communications specialists worked significant overtime all year long to maintain staffing levels to ensure citizen and first-responder safety. Even significant overtime by all our communications specialists was not enough as they too needed well deserved time off. As a result, communications capable Patrol Operations Division officers “stepped up” and took a number of open shifts in the Communication Center; Officers Benjamin J. Kitchen and SRO Nightingale took a number of shifts while Field Training Officer Robert G. Lavoie was a “regular” in Communications taking on a number of shifts all year long.
During 2018, Communications Specialist Edward Higgins was hired and successfully completed our CTP while recent new hires, Communications Specialists Scott Gilman and Michael Davis are assigned to the CTP and are expected to complete the program in early 2019.
In recognition of their extensive extra effort during staffing shortfalls during 2018 the entire Communications Section, Communications Specialists Virginia A. Martin, Nina M. Malley, Joanna L. Umenhofer, Raymond H. Menier, Nathan R. Byron and Edward Higgins received the Department’s Commendation for Distinguished Unit Action at the Department’s Annual Awards Ceremony in December. “Hats off” to all our communications specialists for their dedication to duty and service in the face of significant challenges; well done!
Finally, we announced that CTO Nina M. Malley was promoted to the new position of “Lead Communications Specialist” based on her extensive years of experience as well as work in training our new communications specialists for the past several years. Lead CS Malley will be working directly for LT Bernard in assisting with the administration of the Communications Section including scheduling, oversight of the CTP and CTOs as well as the Section’s Quality Control Assurance Program. Congratulations to Lead CS Malley!
Records Section: Our singular full-time Records Clerk Renee L. Bartlett, assisted by part-time Records Clerk and recent new hire Ms. Monique G. Pliakos are responsible for maintaining our active and archived files, which is no small task. Although the Bedford Police Department is largely “paperless” meaning we rely on our digital records management system to record, document and store our investigative reports and forms, the State of NH, courts, civilians, insurance companies and others still require “hard-copy” documents.
During 2018 Records Clerk Bartlett continued our long-term project launched in 2017 to review all archived documents dating back to the inception of the Department to identify documents for destruction from those that must be retained and to re-order and organize the remaining files. The necessity for this project is space utilization; we’re simply out of space to store documents and to position the Department for eventual digitization of all our files. By the end of 2018 Records Clerk Bartlett had reviewed all Department files through 2009 and was “in sight of the finish line.” We anticipate our multi-year file review will be complete in 2019 from which we will begin the process to determine options for digitizing all our paper files.
During 2018, the Department continued to expand its use of social media and outreach especially on Facebook and Twitter. Our social media program, which incorporates Facebook, Twitter as well as our website, is now in the capable hands of our new part-time Records Section Clerk, Ms. Pliakos, who has brought a new dimension to our social media platforms and outreach programs. You will invariably see Ms. Pliakos not only at our Department events but she also worked to help our “Stuff a Cruiser” Toys for Tots event at Walmart where we “stuffed” five (5) cruisers full of toys for distribution by the U.S. Marine Corps. You also saw Ms. Pliakos at Old Town Day and other events last year and so look for her at our upcoming community policing programs and in our new public safety service announcements in 2019. While sometimes entertaining and probing our effort is to leverage social media and integrate these applications in our overall community policing strategy to keep our residents informed and sometimes entertained. It’s also a vehicle for our staff to say “thank you” to all the wonderful residents who support the Department in so many different ways. While our website is the main portal for granular information regarding the Department, it’s services and programs, it’s our Facebook that presents the “human” content of the Department.
Recruitment: Since 2013, the Department has been in a continual recruitment cycle to address vacancies created by retirements or new hires authorized with your support to ensure we have the capacity to assure the safety and security of our residents, visitors and commuters. From job fairs to applicant reviews, pre-employment testing and interview panels the staff assigned to recruitment have and will continue to be very busy in this challenging job market. In 2018, the Department reviewed hundreds of applications for employment and conducted initial and secondary testing for more than 40 candidates; ultimately hiring four (4) new officers, which still failed to keep pace with existing and new vacancies created by retirements and loss of full-time officers to other agencies with more lucrative compensation plans.
In 2018 we saw the retirement of SGT Kyle D. Thrasher who had most recently been assigned to the Operations Support Division responsible for recruitment, community policing programs and he also served as the Department Training Coordinator (DTC) responsible for both the Field Training (new officers) and the In-service Training Programs. SGT Thrasher was a “fixture” in training and would be remembered as one of the instructors frequently seen during our Citizens Academy Classes or in delivering workplace violence training for businesses in Town as well as heading up our tactical scenario-based training (SBT) program for sworn members. Obviously the retirement of SGT Thrasher left a large gap in Operations Support; to fill those gaps SGT Jessica A. Humphrey was placed on a temporary duty assignment (TDY) from her regular duties as a Patrol Operations Division supervisor and Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) supervisor to take up recruitment, training (FTP and In-service) as well as assist in community policing while also maintaining her primary duties. SGT Humphrey brings her extensive organizational skills as well as her certification as a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) and Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) Instructor and skill sets in mental health as our CIT supervisor. In her short time in Operations Support SGT Humphrey has been working hard to identify and attract the best qualified candidates for employment with the Department, which will be the overarching priority for the Operations Support Division going forward in 2019 for the lack of full-time staffing has stymied progress in standing up our full-time Tactical Patrol and Traffic Units amongst other programs.
Training: Training serves many purposes from providing essential skill sets necessary for employees in all disciplines to be able to execute the mission of the Department in an efficient and effective manner to preparation for new duties and responsibilities. The primary goal of all training is to ensure citizen and first responder life safety and the establishment and maintenance of state mandated individual and Department mandated training requirements. Training must also focus on and bring forth the development of new skill sets necessary to address emergent challenges such as the opioid crisis through the administration of NARCAN or crisis intervention training that focuses on skills that are more effective in resolving incidents that involve citizens in crisis as opposed to the use of force.
The overarching goal of our training program is to ensure the officers and civilian staff that serve you in all disciplines do so within the law consistent with the best and most widely accepted industry leading practices. The intended byproduct of such vigorous training is the reduction of liability exposure for the municipality, it’s taxpayers as well as the Department and employees in a highly litigious society.
To achieve these goals and objectives the Bedford Police Department fields an industry leading Field Training Program (FTP) for new hires as well as an extensive in-service training curriculum that is weighted toward meeting and exceeding state required minimum mandates. Our scenario-based training (SBT) program places officers in high stress simulations of real events using special ammunition that challenges and trains them to successfully resolve critical incidents. Our SBT program is predicated upon the assumption that responding patrol officers will immediately address any active attack situation to prevent loss of life.
Department tactical instructors provided numerous security assessments and workplace violence training seminars to Bedford businesses in 2018. We also embarked on a program that involved security assessments for all Town facilities as well as the development of emergency operations plans and training for each facility and all our valuable Town employees. This program begun in 2018 will continue in 2019.
Additionally, subsequent to the tragic Parkland School shooting in Florida in February 2018, the Chief of Police gained support from the then-superintendent of schools to begin “Run-Hide-Fight” training for all Bedford School District employees. This critical first step in improving survivability in the event of active attack scenarios in our schools represents a significant burden for our Tactical Instructor Team but it must be done and as such the Department absorbed this unfunded burden in 2018. Training was conducted at all Bedford School District campuses during 2018 with a goal of achieving district wide training completion by early 2019.
During 2018 Department Command Staff along with all Patrol Operations Division supervisors (SGTs) and Field Training Officers (FTOs) participated in critical incident management (CIM) training conducted by Department as well as external instructors and staff. The specialized SBT conducted by our own Department Tactical Instructors was based on real active shooter events, which integrated command and control management with field operations and communications. In addition, we also received CIM training from the Manchester Police Department’s SWAT commander to bolster our first response capabilities by Patrol Operations Division SGTs and FTOs. This ongoing program of CIM training will be augmented in 2019 and beyond with a multi-year grant funded program developed in conjunction with the Bedford Fire Department. During 2018 our tactical instructors provided initial training to Fire Department personnel who are now equipped to operate in areas not fully secured (“EMS in the Warm Zone”) in order to treat victims of an active attack as soon as possible and save more lives. As noted above, our CIM training is integrated with our SBT program to ensure all sworn personnel receive and hone the skill sets necessary to immediately respond to any active attack scenario.
Other in-service training included specialized training for our Technical Accident Reconstruction Team; “live” impaired driver training conducted by SGT Humphrey and FTO Patrick J. Gilligan, both of whom are certified Drug Recognition Experts (DRE) as well as Advanced Roadside Impairment Detection training for select officers (a requirement for advancement to DRE status). The Department also launched a first-ever defensive-tactics training program in 2018. This ongoing program will provide experienced as well as new officers with updated skills to improve their ability to successfully control violent suspects with the application of the least amount of physical force necessary. In that same vein, during 2018 the Department replaced our aging (10+ years in service) electronic conducted devices (Taser) with new Axon/Taser X-26P units. Now, each Patrol Operations Division officer and supervisor is assigned their own unit as opposed to the “sharing” arrangement that had been in place. We anticipate the officer specific assignment of Tasers will extend their service life and reduce service/replacement costs.
All of the above in-service training is in addition to “routine” ongoing training evolutions that are required to maintain certification in all our lethal and less than lethal weapons platforms as well as individualized, employee specific, training required for their current or anticipated position (see Department Career Development Program under Administration). Our goal is to ensure our employees have the best training and skills necessary to ensure citizen and first responder safety as well as reduce liability exposure and to prepare those employees seeking to move into new positions by providing supervisory and job-specific training in their current positions with a view toward improving employee retention as well as overall Department performance.
Since the Department continues to find itself in a constant recruitment/training cycle, our cadre of Field Training Officers (FTOs) who supervise, guide and mentor new officers during their 20-week field training program (FTP) and their probationary year were very busy. The Department continued to revise and improve our FTP with new training and documentation requirements while providing important training to our FTOs to ensure they impart the knowledge, skills, abilities, strategies and Department culture to their trainees. We introduced new concepts in the FTP through our FTOs such as the “Primary” FTO; now each trainee is assigned a “Primary” FTO that will mentor the new employee through their FTP and a year-long probationary period. We also introduced new concepts related to “sector integrity/ownership” and “case officer” as a way to further impart the necessary skills required of new officers that are Department-specific to the Bedford Police Department.
While we tend to focus attention to uniformed services, it’s important to recognize the critical training done by our Communications Training Officers (CTOs), Nina M. Malley and Raymond H. Menier throughout 2018. Their training of new employees while also providing in-service training that augments the Department’s participation in an online training program for all communications specialists was vital in meeting the rigorous standards of performance in the Communications Center where “multi-tasking” is an essential skill when multiple events occur simultaneously requiring the coordination of incoming information from the public, first-responders and other agencies.
Despite staffing challenges in both Patrol Operations and the Operations Support Divisions, who supply the personnel necessary for the success of our community policing program, the Department put forth an outstanding effort throughout the year. The Department’s community policing program is designed to reach every segment of our community; seniors, children/young adults, business/retail and our residential neighborhoods with specific public safety goals and objectives for each.
The Department’s School Safety Check Program falls within the jurisdiction of both Patrol Operations as well as Operations Support/Community Policing where our Sector Patrols are required to “visit’ each school campus in their assigned patrol sector a required number of occasions each quarter. In 2018, the Department increased the number of school safety checks conducted by our Sector Patrols by almost 20% (163 v. 194/+31). In addition, the Department also conducted a K-9 searches during the second semester of the 2017-2018 school year and the fall semester of the 2018-2019 school year with assistance from other departments. Although no contraband was found, this ongoing effort sends a clear message to students that we are not “taking our eye off the ball” when it comes to keeping illicit controlled drugs off campus.
Throughout 2018 the Department fielded a robust community policing effort complemented each day by our officers and detectives during their routine daily contacts with the public.
A “quick” summary of community policing events during 2018 reflects the following:
Citizens Academy: Coordinated and presented by the Detective Division staff.
BeBOLD Speaker Series including presentations on:
Vaping by School Resource Officers (SROs) Donahue and Nightingale.
“You’ve Been Served”: Hosting a Teen Alcohol Party by Operations Support Division Lieutenant (LT) Michael R. Bernard and Prosecutor William G. Thornton.
“It Happened to Me” A personal story of addiction in Bedford by Jenna Collins and then a reprise at the high school auditorium.
“It Can Happen to Anyone” a Bedford family’s story of addiction.
NH Teen Challenge: Stories of addiction.
Governor’s Advisor on Addiction, Treatment and Recovery
You can view these informative programs on the Department’s You Tube Channel at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTfv_XbZHOKvFZTZVjCu2Tw
Police Department Open House: Coordinated and planned by SGT Kimball.
Avoid Deny Defend training for several community groups by LT Bernard.
“Hiding in Plain Sight” a special event coordinated by Detective Matthew J. Fleming that brought together a broad panel of experts to educate more than 100 residents on the threat posed by human trafficking.
Social Media Training for parents and teens by Detective Fleming.
Bedford Food Pantry: Several members coordinated by Detective Amy Champagne worked throughout the year to assist the food pantry’s work to deliver food to the disadvantaged.
Coffee with a Cop: Monthly series of informal meetings with the public at various locations throughout Town.
CERT: Until Help Arrives training.
Old Town Day display.
Senior Programs by FTO Lavoie with assistance from staff in all divisions including two special “senior dinners” served by FTO Lavoie and staff for seniors.
This recap is but a smattering of the great work done by civilian and sworn staff from all divisions in the Department that puts a “human face” to public safety service and provides immeasurable support to our efforts to keep everyone in Bedford safe and secure.
We would be remiss if we didn’t highlight our Civilian Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers who continued to serve a vital role in assisting both the Bedford Police and Fire Departments during 2018. From assisting with traffic at operational as well as community service events to providing information on preparedness and community outreach services, the Bedford CERT continues to bridge a critical gap in public safety services. During 2018 CERT presented its ongoing “Until Help Arrives” training that provides citizens with vital information and skills that may be needed to help save lives until first-responders arrive. This important program will continue in 2019 with the help of volunteers like you who see CERT as an opportunity to give something back to their community. So, if you are looking for an opportunity to serve your fellow residents, neighbors and friends in Bedford, please consider volunteering to be a member of the Bedford CERT; contact the Bedford Police Department’s Operations Support Division or CERT at http://www.bedfordnhcert.org .
The Bedford Police Department recognizes that success in completing our mission hinges on the philosophy that “it takes a community”, which is why our Community Policing Program is the cornerstone to the effective delivery of public safety services to our residents. From our “Keep an Eye on Bedford – See Something – Say Something” campaign to supporting “Meals on Wheels” and the Bedford Food Pantry, our dedicated employees “stepped-up” to connect and provide our community support, education, information and services to ensure their safety and well-being. It is part of the Bedford Police Department’s culture of community and customer support that lead our officers and civilian employees to extend themselves to support our residents when the opportunity arises; from shoveling a senior’s driveway or bringing in a heavy parcel for a senior to our “Are You Ok” program that checks in with our seniors each day, we strive to connect as well as protect and serve. Efforts and programs such as the Patrol Operations Division’s fund raiser for Special Olympics to the annual Bicycle Rodeo and Open House and work with BeBOLD are but a few examples of the Department’s community policing efforts to connect, protect and serve residents of all ages. We look forward to seeing you at one of our several community policing events in 2019!
The overarching goal of the administration is to assure the Department’s vision, mission and divisional goals and objectives are met or exceeded to assure the safety and security as well as the quality of life for all in Bedford. The exceptional success achieved in 2018, as indicated above, indicated the administration of the Department exceeded its primary goals and objectives in providing the highest quality public safety services for each tax dollar.
Notwithstanding the above, the Department, like any successful business, must continue to constantly evaluate the climate and environment in which it exists and evolve to assure continued success. Arguably, it is more difficult to manage success than failure. To this end, after an extensive six (6) month review in 2017, the Department deployed its reorganization plan in early 2018. All field operations were consolidated under Captain Scott M. Plumer in the new Patrol Operations Division. All non-operational programs were consolidated under LT Michael R. Bernard in the new Operations Support Division. The senior command structure of the Department also required an adjustment after 12 years in its current format. Thus, beginning in 2018, the Office of the Deputy Chief of Police (DCP) was stood up; incorporating all the programs of the former captain position, the DCP designation more accurately reflected the duties, accountability and responsibilities of the position. Under the reorganization deployed in 2018, DCP Daniel A. Douidi served as the first-line supervisor for all division commanders and assumed additional duties, responsibilities and accountability for strategic planning, human resources, performance measurement and fiscal controls. Moreover, the title of DCP directly reflects the role, position, duties and responsibilities of the office creating a streamlined organizational structure consistent with appropriate span of control guidelines (see Table of Organization/revised).
Human Resources: A continued strong economy in 2018 along with other factors conspired to present an extremely tight job-market for law enforcement all across the US with departments competing against each other for qualified applicants and to retain certified employees, which made it a very difficult year for us. Despite the addition of four (4) new officers, on-board staffing as of December 31, 2018 was stagnant at 36 sworn members (including command staff and supervisors); three sworn members (3) below our authorized strength of 39 and the regional standard of 39 sworn members for a community our size and five (5) officers below the number of sworn personnel recommended by an independent consultant that studied the Department 12-years ago (41).
The most significant hindrance in taking the Department to the next level of public safety service through field operations (e.g. full time Tactical Patrol Unit; full-time Traffic Enforcement Unit, etc.) is the ongoing staffing shortage that we and all departments nationwide continue to struggle with. Competition from larger departments as well as others with more lucrative compensation packages continues to affect the staffing levels of all departments in the state and region. The new collective bargaining agreement between the Town and Bedford Police Union ratified in 2018 created a new rank of Master Patrol Officer (MPO), contingent upon meeting performance standards and testing, will allow officers with three (3) years of experience to matriculate to a compensation step that is competitive with other departments in the area.
The Department completed the testing process for promotion to SGT in December 2018; this extensive program included a written examination followed by an assessment center, external and internal oral board examinations produced a list of candidates qualified for promotion to SGT and MPO. We expect to fill the existing SGT vacancy (Operations Support Division VICE Thrasher) in early 2019 contingent upon staffing. In addition, we also expect several of the candidates who successfully completed the examination process to become eligible for advancement to MPO status, which will measurably improve officer retention going forward in 2019 and beyond.
During 2018 the Administration launched our new Career Development Program (CDP) for all sworn members of the Department. This program requires each sworn member, in concert with management, to identify their own career goals and objectives. The officer-specific CDP will then be used by the Operations Support Division and Administration to tailor training with a goal to help each employee achieve their own career goals and objectives.
In addition, during 2018 Administration overhauled the HR process for “onboarding” new employees as well as “separation” procedures for all employees leaving the Department. With a plethora of programs and applications that apply to all employees as well as services and equipment it was necessary to ensure the HR process properly documented and tracked each employee throughout their career.
In a reprise of 2017, the Department struggled to fill two (2) vacant communications specialist positions in our ComCenter during 2018. These vacancies arose from resignations as well as employees who failed to complete the Department’s Communications Training Program. As with our recruitment efforts to fill patrol officer positions, the difficulties and obstacles confronting us in filling vacancies in the ComCenter were no different. However, as mentioned above, our dedicated staff of communications specialists as well as select Patrol Operations Division personnel “stepped up” to fill the gaps in coverage during the balance of 2018 to ensure adequate coverage to serve the public and our first responders. The duties and responsibilities of today’s public safety communications specialists are daunting as is the multi-faceted work and significant technology they must manage in an ever changing environment from day to day, hour to hour and even by the minute. Our communications specialists are the “life-line” to the public in need as they are the critical link to our field deployed first-responders. Their job is difficult, stressful and highly focused on multi-tasking that dissuades many from the job; however, with recent new hires in 2018 we are confident we will staff up to capacity in the ComCenter in 2019.
One of the most vital functions of HR is to measure employee performance and integrate personnel performance with the Department’s vision, mission and annual goals and objectives. The Department’s performance measurement program, “COMP/Stat” integrates agency performance with individual performance to ensure the success of the Department in meeting its mission specific as well as annual goals and objectives. During 2018 the Department embarked on a project to develop job-specific work-plans and employee evaluation forms that will more accurately assess individual performance balanced against Department goals and objectives.
While assessing performance is critical it is also vitally important to recognize the extraordinary achievements of our employees during 2018 who were recognized during our Annual Department Awards Ceremony in December 2018:
CHIEF’S LETTER OF RECOGNITION
Devon N. Kimball – Sergeant
Sergeant Devon N. Kimball was tasked with coordinating the annual Bedford Police Department Open House. He took this task seriously and worked diligently to improve and increase public attendance and participation.
Sergeant Kimball arranged for many new events and attractions as well as outdoor activities that significantly increased attendance. The addition of displays by the Manchester Police Mounted Unit; Division of Liquor Enforcement, Southern NH Regional Special Operations Unit and yes, even an ice cream truck, were the highlights of the evening. He accomplished this task, which required numerous hours of extra work and coordination, while performing his regular duties as a patrol sergeant. This community policing event brought great credit to our agency and his leadership capabilities.
Matthew A. Proulx– Patrol Officer
Timothy S. Carter– Patrol Officer
During the summer there was an increase in car break-ins in town. There were known suspects but not enough information to go forward with any charges. Officers Carter and Proulx responded to a suspicious activity call, and were able to locate two of the suspects involved in the car break-ins. They were ultimately able to place both into custody. After the arrest one of the suspects admitted to the thefts and the car break-ins stopped in town. Their quick response and investigation helped arrest the suspects, and thus stopped a burdensome crime to the citizens in town.
Jessica A Humphrey – Sergeant
Sergeant Jessica Humphrey was assigned the task of coordinating the annual bike rodeo in addition to her assigned duty as a patrol sergeant. She supervised and planned the event with the assistance of several department employees which resulted in a well-attended community policing event. Her dedication to this event resulted in a positive interaction between members of our department and the public. Her commitment, loyalty, and hard work in the area of community policing are to be commended.
COMMENDATION FOR DISTINGUISHED UNIT ACTION
Virginia A. Martin – Communications Specialist
Nina M. Malley – Communications Specialist
Joanna Umenhofer – Communications Specialist
Raymond H. Menier – Communications Specialist
Nathan R. Byron – Communications Specialist
Edward Higgins – Communications Specialist
During 2018, the Communications Center was tested in many ways; the Center had a change in Division Commanders early in the year and struggled throughout the year with critical staffing shortages and continual training assignments, which led to many long hours of overtime as well as working without the support of a second communications specialist during periods of high call volume.
Despite the obstacles, the dedicated staff in the Communications Center met these challenges head-on and overcame them by continuing to provide high quality and professional communications services to our first-responders. They handled themselves with a stoic grace while often alone in the face of chaos. Through all the adversity, they worked as a team to make sure the Communications Center protected and served the public and our first responders.
Monique Pliakos – Records Clerk
Since being hired in July 2018 Clerk Pliakos demonstrated consistent commitment and drive on a daily basis, always willing to take on new challenges, tasks or assignments. She consistently complete her work in a timely and efficient manner with little to no supervision. Clerk Pliakos is always willing and eager to represent the Bedford Police Department on her off time to assist with any community events and take the initiative to keep the Department’s social media platforms updated with interesting, informative, new and timely posts to keep the public informed. Clerk Pliakos consistently went above and beyond on a daily basis, and always with a positive attitude that is eager to help.
Patrick J. Gilligan – Patrol Officer
During 2018, Officer Patrick J. Gilligan’s sustained pro-active policing led to several felony drug arrests. The first was an investigation into suspicious activity at the Hampton Inn involving guests at the establishment. Upon investigating the incident Officer Gilligan successfully obtained a search warrant, which led to the seizure of a significant quantity of controlled drugs and firearms as well as the arrest of the subject. In another suspicious activity investigation, this time at the Country Inn, Officer Gilligan discovered a quantity of illegal controlled drugs while assisting management of the hotel direct several guest to vacate the hotel. Officer Gilligan identified the subject responsible for the room where the drugs were found and was then able to quickly locate the subject still on the property and placed him into custody. At a time where there appears to be a significant increase in drug activity in our local hotels Officer Gilligan’s superior investigative skills and dogged perseverance prevented a significant quantity of controlled drugs from hitting the street and led to several arrests sending a clear message that illegal drug activity will not be tolerated in Bedford.
On June 16, 2018, Officer Patrick J. Gilligan responded to the Hampton Inn for an echo level medical call involving a possible over dose. Officer Gilligan arrived prior to Bedford Rescue to find a male subject who was not conscious or breathing. Officer Gilligan was able to utilize his first aid training in administering NARCAN to the unresponsive male subject. After administering NARCAN the male subject was revived, and made a full recovery. Officer Gilligan’s quick reaction potentially saved this person’s life prior to Bedford Rescue arriving on scene.
Tony Ssonko – Patrol Officer
On December 1, 2018 at approximately 1350 hours, Officer Ssonko responded to a report of an unconscious male in the middle of the road on Rollingwoods Dr. Officer Ssonko arrived within minutes and began performing CPR on the subject. Officer Ssonko continued performing CPR for over six minutes until the ambulance arrived. Officer Ssonko’s actions that day helped save the elderly man’s life.
On December 2, 2018 at approximately 1853 hours, Officer Ssonko responded to a report of a suicidal female subject who was threatening to jump off the Plummer Rd. overpass bridge. Officer Ssonko talked to the female in distress and convinced her to come down from the bridge to seek assistance.
Officer Ssonko’s actions on December 1, and December 2, 2018 led to the successful resuscitation of an unresponsive subject, which contributed to saving his life and his actions on led to preventing a suicide which allowed the subject to seek mental health treatment, which earned Officer Ssonko this Commendation for Lifesaving, presented this 18th day of December, 2018.
The above captioned awards represent but a few of the commendable and outstanding efforts and actions by our dedicated staff of sworn and civilian employees at the Bedford Police Department who consistently go above and beyond in the delivery of public safety service to residents and visitors in Bedford 24/7/365.
Policies and Procedures: In order to keep pace with industry standards for excellence, professionalism and to improve the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of the Department we continually evaluate and improve our standard operating procedures (SOPs). In addition, this effort also serves to make the Department ready for eventual accreditation. During 2018 the Department promulgated, revised or improved SOPs in the following program areas: Active Attack, Department Organization, Department Chain of Command, National Data Exchange (NDEx) Procedures, Promotion Process, Taser, Witness Identification, Crisis Intervention, Recruitment, ComCenter Procedures, Training Programs, Naloxone/NARCAN and the Department’s new Honor Guard Unit SOP to name only some. Extensive administrative staff work was involved in the promulgation, review or revision of each of these SOPs all designed to ensure the Department provides the best possible guidance to assure consistent quality performance and excellence in all we do.
Performance Measurement: A critical element of the Department’s success is the laser like focus on performance across all division lines. Our version of the “COMP/Stat” performance tool used by law enforcement agencies relies upon clearly defined strategic goals and objectives for each division coupled with constant measurement. This focus and attention on performance results in continual operational adjustments necessary to meet or exceed our goals. The Department continuously analyzes data to assure adequate resources are always available to respond to resident’s call(s) for service and to handle both our residential as well as our growing daytime “service” population (population during business hours when commercial establishments are open and accounting for commuter traffic). The data is also used to ensure our resources are properly deployed and aligned with current trends to assure effective proactive patrol and the utilization of investigative resources. In addition, we utilize data to conduct an annual “workload analysis” to establish and predict resource requirements.
Financial Management: The overarching administrative goal is to provide the highest quality public safety service and protection for each appropriated tax dollar while successfully completing our mission each day; 24/7/365. To achieve this goal requires linkage between strategic operational planning and fiscal controls/planning/budgeting. In a highly volatile environment of unpredictability, which is the arena where law enforcement exits, the Department met its fiscal requirements within its allotted appropriations.
Technology: During 2018 the Department rolled out its revised Information Portal or “IP”; based on Microsoft’s SharePoint platform the new Department IP is the cutting edge for intra-department information sharing and is likely one of its kind in NH law enforcement at the municipal level. With input from employees in all disciplines the new IP endeavors to provide the needed information and data as well as shared items of interest for employees accessible via Microsoft-365 accounts from any internet capable computer that is FBI security compliant for law enforcement sensitive information.
Fleet Management: During 2017 and into 2018 we experienced ongoing maintenance problems with our fleet of Ford Interceptor sedans and SUVs. Efforts to seek advice and assistance from Ford Fleet management fell on “deaf ears” after several email and written correspondence. As a result, the Department looked at other options to improve the reliability of our line cruisers that must meet rigorous safety and reliability standards. After consultation with the NH State Police who maintains a fleet of more than 400 Dodge Pursuit vehicles the Department purchased its first two (2) new Dodges in 2018. This decision was made after a complete review of maintenance issues presented by the fleet of Fords as well as information on the frequency of maintenance of Dodges from the NH State Police as well as Ford’s unfortunate decision to stop production of the Ford sedan interceptor. We are looking forward to improved maintenance and reliability from the new Dodge’s, which have attracted a lot of public attention and support when they’ve been on display at our community policing events in 2018.
Through 2018 the Department handled 8,672 calls for service (CFS) representing an overall static increase/decrease compared to 2017 (8,888 v. 8,672/-216/-2.4%). [Note: CFS are defined as requests for police service(s) from the public resulting in the deployment of police resources.] The sustained higher level CFS achieved in prior years continued unabated in 2018 with only a very slight decrease of less than one (1) CFS per day realized.
Officer initiated activity reflected a 4% increase (28,847 v. 30,058/+1,211) despite a 20% reduction in patrol hours through the 2nd quarter of 2018. Our efforts in harm reduction and to improve the quality of life through aggressive traffic safety enforcement patrols that projects a visible and active law enforcement presence in the community was evident in the increase in officer initiated activity despite staffing and training during 2018.
Total incident report(s) increased 3% (37,735 v. 38,730/+995) compared to 2017 and when compared to 2015 we see a dramatic 43% increase (27,059).
Calls handled by the Police Department’s Communications Center (Police/Fire/EMS) also reflected a 3% increase (41,533 v. 42,698/+1,165). Additionally, in end-of-year data we find the ComCenter handled a total of 3,337 E-911 Police/Fire/EMS calls for service; a 2% increase over 2017 and our staff averaged a remarkable 91% in their ability to dispatch a priority-one (P1) calls for service in two (2) minutes or less during 2018. The ComCenter handled 30,668 total business line calls during 2018 for a total call aggregate duration of more than 604 hours.
The Department’s achievements cannot be fully appreciated by the review of data alone; but rather in the context of public service and our focus on community policing. From the quality of service delivered each day to those that call upon us for assistance to the compassion of our officers who give of themselves to help others, it is the Department’s overall integration of all facets of public safety service that produced the significant improvement in safety and security Bedford enjoys.
We are proud to serve our residents in keeping with our BPD tradition of:
Bravery Professionalism Dedication
POLICE IN ACTION – 2018
2018 CITIZENS POLICE ACADEMY
Crime Scene Investigation-Fingerprints
Crime Scene Investigation-Tire Tracks
Citizens Academy “Home on the Range”
2018 OLD TOWN DAY
L/R: Officers Ssonko, Gardner. LT Bernard, Chief, SRO Nightingale, FTO Lavoie
“Fist-Bump” with the Chief after looking over the new Dodge Cruiser
2018 PD Open House
Dep. Chief Douidi “counting” balloons for FTO Krause and monitoring the ice cream truck
2018 Bicycle Rodeo
“Showing a “New Special Officer” how to issue a Bicycle “Summons”
2018 Bedford HS Intercession Group
SROs Donahue, Nightingale
SRO “Spike” checking out the lemonade (and cookies?)
2018 Community Policing w/ Seniors
SGT Humphrey “photo bombing” dinner/Bedford Falls
FTO Krause “losing” at cards despite “help” from FTO Lavoie
FTO Gardner playing a “tough hand”