Note: Warren Town Council president Chris Stanley sent this memo to hid fellow town councilors recently. The council will meet next Monday, July 1, to discuss what the agenda refers to as Warren’s heroin “epidemic.”
To the editor:
Recently, a dramatic increase in the number of deaths linked to heroin throughout the nation coupled with a perceived up tick in violent crime has spurred a great deal of discussion among the residents of Warren. The conversations focus on the area that comprises the neighborhood resting in and around Wood Street, Federal Street and Market Street. In the neighborhood that is being targeted, residents have complained of being prisoners in their own homes — and fearful of being stuck by stray hypodermic needles. The two most alarming incidents involve a stabbing and an assault of a minor with a baseball bat. The issue now at hand is to develop policy that will dramatically improve the quality of life in the in the Town of Warren and ensure public safety in the years ahead.
Therefore, it is prudent to establish a focus group or series of council workshops to study the alarming occurrences and make specific recommendations that aim addressing a number of social ills that are prevalent. It appears reasonable that a series of workshops or focus group can offer suggestions for mitigating problems in targeted areas where drug dealing and violence are most prevalent. By reviewing current policy and creating new ones that will effectively enforce violations of town ordinances, summary offenses, drug-related offenses, crimes against persons, and warrant service. Specifically, policies that have to be: (1) implemented within the one-year time limit and (2) supported entirely by the current municipal budget, since no special funding is available for the programs themselves.
The finest example of the proposed commission’s goal is evidenced in the United States Conference of Mayors white paper entitled, “The Influence of Community Policing in City Governments.” This document examines the use of neighborhood teams who are responsible for dealing with the multitude of issues that affect a neighborhood, and with providing services to improve the quality of life in that neighborhood. In this instance if the workshops incorporate representatives from a variety of departments, among them: Building Inspection, Police and Community Development it can easily seek to broaden the concepts highlighted in the document and tailor them to the Town of Warren.
The workshops may be comprised of the following: the Police Chief, Solicitor, one council member, one member of the Juvenile Hearing Board, the Social Services Director, the Building official, Town Planner and the Fire Chief. The council shall meet in the workshop format a minimum of three times in the next year; examine studies concerning crime reduction and recommend policies that can be quickly and effectively adopted. The workshops shall aim at developing programs specifically aimed at reducing crime and the physical deterioration of the neighborhood, commonly understood as “signs of crime.” Topics that may be explored are as follows: Random, intensified enforcement, foot patrols and a clean-up program aimed at reducing physical deterioration. The Town Manager shall compile a report to the Warren Town Council with the Town’s findings and recommendations including the adoption or reform of town ordinances no later than the regularly schedule council meeting to be held in November 2014.