BARRE — Chief Tim Bombardier told city councilors this week that in the “late 1970s” the local police force was as big as is contemplated in the budget that will be on the ballot in March.
“We had 20 (officers) at one point,” Bombardier said. “We had more than we have now.”
Not according to a cursory review of the city’s annual reports for the time period Bombardier identified in response to a question posed by Councilor Michael Boutin.
Boutin asked the question in an apparent attempt to make a connection between the more robust police force that he and three other members of the council successfully fought for during recently concluded budget deliberations and the good “old days” in Barre.
The only problem is that while Bombardier supplied the answer Boutin was looking for there isn’t much in the way of evidence to suggest that he was actually right.
Not in 1975, or 1976, or 1977, or 1978, or 1979, or 1980, or 1981 …
Copies of the annual reports for those years list the names and ranks of those on the police department’s roster and, even if you added in a fluctuating number of “clerk-dispatchers,” there were never 20 of them. Not unless you count the cadre of crossing guards that were needed before the city abandoned its network of neighborhood schools.
Though the structure of the department changed on an almost annual basis in those years, its size was fairly constant. During the fiscal year that ended June 30, 1975 there were 15 officers – a figure that included then-Chief Floyd Chandler.
The department increased from 15 to 16 members three years later when Paul Dranbauer took over as chief, slipped to 14 during the fiscal year that ended June 30, 1979, and then bumped back up to 16 in 1980.
By that time now-Deputy Chief Andrew Marceau was on the roster and when contacted for clarification on Wednesday
Bombardier said Marceau was the source of the anecdotal information he relayed to the council moments after one of its members launched a spirited defense of a plan to hire two more police officers in Barre.
Bristling over what he said was some of the blowback from the council’s split decision to include funding for two additional police officers in the budget that voters will be asked to approve next month, Councilor Charlie Dindo described a city that desperately needs a little more law enforcement.
“Some people have told me I have overreacted,” he said, referring to his role in the council’s, 4-3, vote to override the recommendation of its recently appointed budget committee and include funding for two new officers in the proposed budget.
“When you see a new … SUV with tinted glass from Massachusetts drive up in your neighborhood, the tinted windows go down and there’s a driver and a passenger with a mask on and there are drugs and guns involved I’m not overreacting,” Dindo said, suggesting the problem extends well beyond his neighborhood.
“It’s happening all over Barre,” he said, ticking down a lengthy list of streets and occasionally sprinkling in references to recent
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