Fiorentini on Police Staffing: Officers Need to Focus on Gangs, Not Speeding

(Jay Saulnier file photograph for WHAV News.)

Haverhill Police personnel issues were up for discussion during Tuesday’s City Council meeting. (Jay Saulnier photograph for WHAV News)

Mayor James J. Fiorentini nixed the Haverhill City Council’s request to convert a police patrolman’s job into a sergeant’s job—but his reason isn’t just about money.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Fiorentini—through Chief of Staff Allison Heartquist—agreed to add a motorcycle to the department’s fleet, but wasn’t willing to make the personnel change that would carry an estimated $20,000 price tag. Speaking to WHAV Wednesday, Fiorentini said his decision had more to do with the Council’s suggestion that an added sergeant could serve a public safety purpose.

“Right now, I want our police department to focus on gangs, guns and drugs. I always appreciate the Council’s input (and desire) to focus on speeding, but I want patrolmen—more Indians, less chiefs—so they can focus on gangs, guns and drugs,” Fiorentini said.

Councilor Michael S. McGonagle spearheaded the request for additional personnel, outlining the council’s public safety vision. “Maybe more traffic stops or more evaluations. I would love to see the police department be able to follow our school buses,” McGonagle said.

Fiorentini isn’t totally nixing the idea, however, telling WHAV “nothing’s ever off the table” and that he’d revisit the request during future budget talks.