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Troy policeman says recent Council letter fails to tell actual circumstances

by The Western News
| October 31, 2011 10:39 AM

In a recent Letter to the Editor, the

Troy City Council mentioned that several fliers have been posted

around town that contain incorrect information. I am one of the

three police officers in Troy and have seen these fliers. They were

posted by concerned citizens of Troy trying to educate the public

about what the council is doing.

And every time someone posts one of

these fliers, it gets taken down. It’s obvious that someone doesn’t

support the First Amendment right of freedom of speech in this

city.

The council’s letter is the one

containing misleading information, especially concerning the Troy

Police Department and the Troy animal-control issue.

First, their letter makes it sound like

the Troy Police Department isn’t doing anything by listing only

partial statistics (seven violations and one arrest per month per

officer). This is highly misleading.

In the last 12 months, I alone had 556

case reports and wrote 129 citations. But of course, they didn’t

bother to mention that. They also failed to mention that each one

of these cases involved writing detailed reports which takes a

considerable amount of time.

And did they mention that we also

respond to all EMS calls in the city? These don’t have case

reports, and aren’t included in the statistics.

We also participate in a lot of other

activities that aren’t in the statistics like assisting other law

enforcement agencies and backing them up when needed, conducting

walk-throughs of the local bars, patrolling the city, airport and

forest service, conducting traffic patrol and enforcement,

patrolling the school zones before and after school, conducting

traffic control for special events, working extra DOT shifts during

high-risk times, conducting investigations, checking out suspicious

people and vehicles, conducting VIN inspections on vehicles, finger

printing people and conducting background checks, submitting

reports to the state, conducting the “Eddie the Eagle” and

“Positive Ticket” programs for kids, assisting with alcohol-server

classes, conducting a walk-through of Stein’s Market every night

before they close, and so on. Did the council mention any of this?

Of course they didn’t.

Did they mention that each officer puts

in an extra 20 hours a week of on-call time that we don’t even get

paid for? That is over 3,000 hours a year that we donate to the

city. Each officer is either working or on-call 60 hours a week.

This does not include covering for one another when someone is sick

or on vacation. It also doesn’t include extra shifts for special

events and holidays. It takes five full time officers to provide

24/7 coverage. We are doing it with three. And the council has the

audacity to say that we are not over worked!

The council did NOT mention ANY of

this. They just gave you the distorted statistics that they wanted

you to see, and are trying to make the police department look bad

just to justify their own poor decisions. This is a perfect example

of how this council operates! They don’t have a clue about what

police work entails or what we do.

As far as the number of arrests, yes we

could make a lot more. But there is only one officer on duty at a

time, and every time we make an arrest it takes that officer out of

service for a couple hours or longer.

We make arrests when we need to, but

try to utilize alternatives when available, like cite and release.

This keeps the officer in the city and available for

emergencies.

In a recent article written by the new

city attorney (the one hired by the council despite the hiring

committee’s recommendation) he stated that crime in Troy has

dropped over the last two years and the council feels that the

police department can take over the animal-control duties.

First of all, did they ever stop and

wonder why the crime rate is down? Could it be that Troy now has

three dedicated police officers who actually do their job and get

out and patrol and care about the people?

Secondly, animal control is NOT a

police function. Sure, we will respond if a dangerous animal is

attacking or threatening someone. But we are not trained or

equipped to deal with animals. We don’t have room in our patrol

vehicles for the extra equipment and our vehicles are not designed

for transporting animals.

What do we do if we have an animal in

our patrol vehicle and we need to arrest or transport someone? If

we let the animal go and it bites someone or runs out in traffic

and causes an accident, we would be liable. And do the citizens

really want their ONLY on-duty officer 20 miles away in Libby

transporting a stray cat when they have a REAL police

emergency?

During the last 12 months, Troy had 242

animal complaints. The council doesn’t think this justifies a part

time animal control officer?

The Troy Police Department has worked

hard to gain the trust and respect of the citizens of Troy (unlike

the council members themselves). We are NOT going to just stand by

and let the council ruin this. We are also NOT going to stand by

while the council blindly reduces the level of police protection

for the citizens of Troy.

The council members listed their

telephone numbers in their letter. I suggest calling them and

telling them how you feel about them providing misleading

information, eliminating animal control and trying to reduce public

safety. The citizens need to set them straight!

— Nathan White

Troy