Councilors Ask for Group Home, State Help in Reducing Pressure on Police

Haverhill Deputy Police Chief Anthony L. Haugh.

Haverhill city councilors are asking local juvenile group homes and the state’s Division of Children and Families (DCF) for help in reducing pressure on city police resources

The council Tuesday unanimously supported two motions from Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua, either inviting group home representatives, by letter, to attend an upcoming council meeting to discuss “voluntary measures they will put in place” to help stem police calls, or writing to DCF about local concerns over an “excessive number of calls to the group homes.” The motions came after Haverhill Deputy Police Chief Anthony L. Haugh told councilors police resources are “pulled in many directions” and “are running thin.” According to numbers reported by Haugh, up to 77 percent of calls in 2015 from a group home at 4 South Kimball St. were for “juvenile runaways.” He explained, at the request of Councilor Michael S. McGonagle how police prioritize calls between runaway and criminal incidents.

“It’s a very difficult situation because these are children, a protected class that have undergone horrific things in their life. This is a delicate balancing act, of course. We still have the ability to prioritize calls. Obviously this is a high priority for us, but if there is someone that’s being victimized or a crime in progress, we can stack the call and still take it,” Haugh said.

McGonagle, said, “these children need help,” regarding placements at group homes out of individual home situations.  He added group home operations are governed by DCF.

“I think, at some point, if we’re going to make inroads into trying to help the neighbors live in a peaceful environment and make sure that these children have a safe place to live – where they have guidance and the help they require – we potentially need the state delegation to change how we deal with these homes,” McGonagle said.

Other group homes cited by Haugh with high percentages of juvenile runaway reports to police in 2015 were at 31 South Kimball St. and 230 Liberty St.

Haugh said some relief may be coming as certain group home operators work to decide when to report runaways or whether to delay calling police about older teens who may return on their own.

4 thoughts on “Councilors Ask for Group Home, State Help in Reducing Pressure on Police

    • If you have watched the police reports, you will see there are too many calls made to the Haverhill Police for “runaways.” These calls take up too many police call hours, and something is definitely wrong with the system; else these kids would NOT be running away from these homes if all was well and if the facilities were keeping track of the residents in the first place.

      This one issue is taking up too many police man hours chasing down all of these runaways, and that is less time available to protect the residents of the City.