The last quarter of Fiscal Year 2020 has been unlike anything Franklin residents have experienced in the last 100 years. On March 10, 2020, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts declared a state of emergency. Soon thereafter a series of directives were instituted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to reduce / prevent the spread of the virus. As a public safety agency, the Franklin Police Dept. (FPD) was obviously deemed essential, with our role in the community being so vital.
Since it is impossible for our personnel to cut off all contact with the public, we needed to make a significant number of changes in how we conduct our law enforcement and community policing business. We essentially needed to change the way we did everything prior to COVID-19. The wearing of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), the continuous cleaning of work areas / police vehicles, how we conduct roll calls, utilization of the police station, how we conduct criminal investigations and limiting our contact with the public; are but a few of the changes instituted.
We needed to make these changes immediately while simultaneously continuing to provide essential services in the safest manner possible in an effort to keep our employees and the public we serve safe.
I’m proud to state the men and women of the Franklin Police Department displayed tremendous fortitude, dedication and professionalism throughout this ordeal. Remember how little was known about COVID-19 in late March and while most were spending time at home at the direction of contagious disease professionals, your police department personnel never stopped working.
They embraced the challenges and changes with the utmost flexibility and continued the mission of the agency without pause or complaint, providing excellent services to the community. I know I may be a bit biased, but I sincerely believe we have some of the best and most altruistic law enforcement professionals in the business working for the Franklin Police Department. I believe you would agree with me!
Even with all the challenges the department needed to deal with, we continued to work diligently to accomplish the goals we set for FY20. Many of our previous and current initiatives are familiar and have been discussed in past annual reports as they are multi-year projects due to the complexity involved in their implementation.
In July, 2019, the department implemented a new schedule for the Operations Division consisting of 4 days on / 4 days off - 10 hour shifts. This transition was undertaken to reduce existing operating expenses so the funds could be used to increase sworn officer personnel.
Due to this effort, the department was able to increase the agency's sworn officer complement from 46 to 51 officers (5 officers or 10.9% increase), the first significant increase in staff in over a decade. The increased staff provided for additional patrol related coverage and allowed the agency to continue to staff the front desk of the department after the elimination of dispatch personnel when the department transitioned to the Metacomet Emergency Communications Center (MECC). Having an officer at the front desk maintains / increases our commitment to providing excellent customer service to those residents who require or prefer to receive service at the police station.
In January, 2018, the FPD in collaboration with the Medway Police Department applied for and was subsequently granted a Jail-Diversion Program (JDP) grant from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Law enforcement based jail diversion programs seek to redirect individuals with behavioral health disorders from the criminal justice system into treatment when appropriate and safe to do so at the point prior to arrest. In addition these programs seek to enhance public safety by identifying strategies that can be safe and effective in handling acute situations in which police are called regarding a person who is in an emotional crisis.
The department is very pleased to announce, after an incredibly successful first year, we will retain the excellent services provided by Kallie Montagano, our full-time mental health specialist provided through the Jail Diversion Grant Program. The Town of Franklin and Town of Medway received a grant renewal for almost $100,000 to have Kallie continue to deploy to calls for service involving individuals with mental health related issues and work with them to get placed with the support they may need to live a healthy life.
The grant continues to provide for a full-time (40 hours) mental health clinician who will work directly with patrol division personnel to evaluate and recommend alternatives to arrest during incidents. During FY2020 the JDP clinician has been involved in 360 on-scene crisis interventions. The program successfully diverted nine (9) low-level offenders from the criminal justice system at an estimated cost savings of $22,680 ($2,520 per arrest event). Thirty-eight (38) individuals were diverted from unnecessary emergency department hospital admissions due to the JDP clinician being on scene to facilitate assessment and treatment recommendations at an estimated cost savings of $152,000 ($4,000 per diversion). The clinician also conducted 296 follow-up contacts with individuals referred by officers throughout the fiscal year.
The opioid epidemic and drug overdoses continue to impact communities in the United States and Franklin. The Department responded to 23 reported overdose incidents during FY20, two (2) of which were fatal. Public Safety personnel administered Narcan at 13 of the incidents. In FY19 there were 44 overdose incidents, three (3) of which were fatal. The FPD continues to collaborate with our federal, state, local and private partners (SAFE Coalition) in our efforts to provide those suffering from substance use disorders with resources, referrals, assistance and support in their efforts to get well.
In 2019 all Norfolk County municipal law enforcement agencies and the Norfolk County District Attorney’s Office joined in collaboration to form the Norfolk County Outreach Program (NCOP). This multi-jurisdictional effort includes the real-time reporting of overdoses and the identification of at-risk individuals throughout the county through the use of a shared data management system. Follow-up visits by law enforcement officers and clinicians are conducted within 48 hours of the event to provide individuals with substance use disorder and/or their loved ones with appropriate resource information and access to treatment.
In June, 2020, the NCOP expanded its outreach by instituting a cross jurisdictional notification system that shares data with six (6) other counties in eastern Massachusetts. This achievement truly provides the FPD with the ability to have a more complete idea and approach to identifying substance abusers in our community and offer them the services they need. FPD personnel conducted 26 follow-up visits in FY2020. Although we responded to 23 reported overdose incidents in Franklin, we received an alert that three (3) Franklin residents had an overdose event in a community outside Norfolk County. Without this initiative we may have never known about these events and would not have been able to offer these Franklin residents resources and services.
In early 2019 the department joined the The Norfolk County Police Anti-Crime Task Force, or NORPAC. The Task Force was originally established to facilitate a multi- agency approach to drug enforcement throughout the northern region of Norfolk County and includes 16 municipal police agencies. In 1996, its mission was expanded to encompass organized crime, serial crime, violent crime, crimes committed by traveling criminals, and fugitive apprehension, but Task Force detectives spend the vast majority of their time conducting drug investigations. Franklin detectives now have an exceptional resource available when investigating narcotics related crime.
In May, 2020, with the assistance of NORPAC and other state and federal agencies, the department concluded a lengthy investigation that resulted in the execution of a search warrant and subsequent arrest of two individuals suspected of drug trafficking. Many pills confirmed by lab testing to be fentanyl, with an estimated street value of $15,000, were recovered. Approximately $100,000 in cash and other items were seized.
In September, 2019, the department initiated a Problem Oriented Policing (POP) Unit within the Operations Division. Using a proven problem-solving method known as SARA (Scanning, Analysis, Response and Assessment), POP officers would identify or be assigned to investigate repetitive calls for service and develop strategies and solutions to reduce/eliminate such problems and behaviors. The POP philosophy is to “think outside the box” in an effort to reduce crime, identify issues at their roots, and improve the quality of life of the residents affected by the problem. The unit has worked on a number of issues over the past year and has had great success solving problems.
The FPD continues to pursue certification and eventual accreditation through the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission. Accreditation/certification is a self-initiated evaluation process by which police departments strive to meet and maintain standards that have been established for the profession, by the profession. These carefully selected standards reflect critical areas of police management, operations and technical support activities. They cover areas such as policy development, emergency response planning, training, communications, property and evidence handling, use of force, vehicular pursuit, prisoner transportation, and holding facilities. The program not only sets standards for the law enforcement profession, but also for the delivery of police services to citizens. Members of the Accreditation Team have been working very hard and although the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a delay, we expect to conclude a mock assessment in November, 2020 and obtain certification in February, 2021.
The Police of the Annual Report is too long to share here, please continue reading the PDF version (page 124) or the print version page 118) ->
Prior Annual Reports can be found online
Visit the Police Dept. page https://www.franklinma.gov/police-department
|Franklin Annual Report - 2020: Police Department|