THOMASTON – A special Police Commission meeting was held on Tuesday, June 18, with Police Chief Jeffrey Madden sharing his quarterly report and a discussion about new Open Burning regulation enforcement.
Prior to Chief Madden’s report, Fire Marshal Robert Norton, Sr., spoke with the commission about recent issues with burning permit violations.
Mr. Norton recalled a resident on Woodruff Avenue who recently claimed they saw flames exceeding an eight foot fence on a Saturday evening.
New DEEP mandates state that any violation of Open Burning laws issued by either the state or municipality are no longer cited as an infraction but currently classified as a misdemeanor, which may result in the issuance of a fine or even imprisonment.
“Construction debris or demolition is banned by the state statute,” First Selectman Edmond V. Mone said.
Chief Madden said he has informed his officers to offer verbal warnings for first time offenses.
“They will not get pinched for the first time,” he said.
His officers will arrest any repeat offenders who continually violate Open Burning laws.
Mr. Norton is drafting a press release to share with local media which will outline the rules and regulations for open burning on a residential piece of property.
Enforcement has not diminished.
“This is the decision of the Police Commission,” First Selectman Mone said.
Chief Madden provided his quarterly report as the department heads into the vacation season.
One key area of discussion was around a rise in the number of calls received by Thomaston’s Animal Control.
Chief Madden explained that many calls were made notifying them about nondomestic animal sightings including bears, foxes and coyotes.
In collaboration with Plymouth, both the towns of Thomaston and Plymouth share a regional responsibility in managing calls.
Plymouth provides a full-time animal control officer to cover both municipalities and in exchange, Thomaston allows for staff personnel to use the town’s animal pound, which can hold up to 12 animals at a time.
Chief Madden expressed his gratitude towards the full-time and two part-time animal control officers who service the area.
In other news, the chief reported that 60 criminal arrests were made, a sharp incline in comparison to the previous quarter.
“People get restless in the warmer weather,” he said.
Other highlights included a significant drop-off in the number of motor vehicle break-ins from last quarter, with only two reported incidents.
Additionally, officers had to administer naxolone or Narcan only three times this quarter, twice to one individual.
Although this figure is low, Chief Madden noted that the department went without administering a single Narcan dosage throughout the entire prior quarter.
He explained that thefts have been taking place at the police’s vehicle impound, where there are currently no cameras or surveillance systems installed.
As a result, the chief plans on securing the space with surveillance equipment to prevent any further break-ins.
The department has purchased new dispatch software that allows for call responders to streamline the process, which saves time for those in need, and has trained everyone in the new technology.
Related to call services, the department was able to decrease average call lengths to 6.0 seconds.
Thomaston’s call time has been continually on the decline, dropping from 8.0 to 7.0 seconds and has decreased even further, well surpassing the “state’s mandated 10.0 seconds,” as shared by First Selectman Mone.
This quarter, Chief Madden said that 485 calls were made to their 911 dispatch. Cumulatively, this number of calls created the 6.0-second average.
Another matter of discussion revolved around paying for overtime officers, especially when three officers were currently on worker’s compensation during the quarter.
Two of the three have returned, while one is still out.
“I’m still fighting the overtime battle,” he said.
Overtime wages are costing the budget, amounting to 772 hours of overtime.
Even with those costs to maintain his labor force, the chief reports that his quarterly budget is anticipated to remain under budget until the end of the quarter which concludes Monday, July 1.
The Police Commission commended Chief Madden’s efforts in balancing his budget.