Council Again Ponders End to Police Hiring Freeze

Haverhill City Hall. (WHAV News file photograph.)

The Haverhill City Council will continue discussions Tuesday night on a proposed end to a hiring freeze for the Haverhill police department.

The proposal raised two weeks ago by Councilor Michael S. McGonagle prompted other suggestions from fellow councilors to combat drug-related crimes, including increased code enforcement by the city’s Inspectional Services. Police Chief Alan R. DeNaro is expected to speak before the council, and new details are expected about a task force being created by Mayor James J. Fiorentini.

At the last meeting, 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.

“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.

The Haverhill City Council meets at 7 p.m., Tuesday, in council chambers at Haverhill City Hall.