City Council Seeks Action to Combat Drug Crimes

Councilors Colin F. LePage and William J. Macek in the Haverhill City Council office.

Haverhill City Councilors calling for added measures, including more police presence and building code enforcement, to help battle drug-related crimes in the city.

Those and other suggestions were raised during a discussion Tuesday night on a proposal from Councilor Michael S. McGonagle to lift a hiring freeze for the police department. Councilor William H. Ryan said the police department is not fully manned, and he believes crime in the downtown area is taking police resources away from other neighborhoods.

City Councilor William H. Ryan.

City Councilor William H. Ryan.

“The chief has to go where the action is, and that’s in the downtown area in the Acre and in the Mount Washington area primarily. I think it isn’t by plan, but these neighborhoods outside the downtown area that probably make up 80 or 90 percent of our community are obviously going to be neglected when you have the kind of problems you have in the downtown area,” Ryan said.

Councilor Robert Scatamacchia suggested reinforcing the city’s Inspectional Services. He said a code enforcement team used during the Ryan administration helped address a previous problem with slumlords and neglected properties.

“Instead of having some of the slumlords that we may be having now, and I’m not so sure that’s an accurate assessment of what our neighborhoods have become, but instead of them at that point of deterioration, they actually made a comeback, whereby the code enforcement team was not allowing some of these landlords to house some of the less desirable citizens in their neighborhoods,” Scatamacchia said.

Further discussion on police staffing levels was postponed by the council for two weeks. According to councilor McGonagle, the mayor is forming a task force, and Haverhill Police Chief Alan R. DeNaro is expected to speak during that meeting  Dec. 30.