February 02, 2012WOLFEBORO — In presenting his 2011 annual report to the Wolfeboro Police Commission on Jan. 19, Wolfeboro Police Chief Stuart Chase said the statistics of enforcement activity are "barometers of economic trends and social issues, from which no community is immune."
The department promotes crime prevention and public safety through various initiatives within the community: Law Day, Public Safety Day and Bike and Walk to School Day; a K9 program; the Good Morning Program, a telephone check-in for seniors and disabled residents who live alone; and prescription drug take-back days to get drugs out of medicine chests – a target for thieves.
The department also is host to the long-established Wolfeboro Children's Fund, a 501 (c)3 entity best known for its clothing distribution to needy families during the Christmas season.
Though the staff was unexpectedly short two officers during the height of the tourist season, vehicle stops – "intended to correct bad habits and educate the public" – were up 36 percent from 2010 (2,263 in all), with the highest number occurring on higher traffic streets such as Center and South Main, followed by notable activity on North Main Street, Pine Hill Road, the Governor Wentworth Highway and Beach Pond Road.
Controlled drug violations increased by 43 percent and 47 motorists were charged with Driving While Intoxicated, a 30 percent increase.
Property crimes topped the list of reported offenses in 2011, which increased 22 percent overall.
Chase's report called attention to the support of federal and state funds that allow the department to bolster traditional shifts with DWI and speed enforcement patrols as well as pedestrian safety and commuter hour patrols. Those funding sources also assist in the distribution of bicycle helmets to children whose families can not otherwise afford them and bullet proof vests for officers.
Staffing is back to the previous level with the addition of Officer Pete Llewellyn in August and Officer Pat Spera in September. Officer Shane Emerson was sworn in just this month, a vacancy that was stalled by legislative changes to the state retirement system.
Wolfeboro Central Dispatch is one of only two 24-hour/seven days a week dispatch services in Carroll County. Supervisor Mia Lyons, head of the staff of five full-time and five part-time employees, reported a total of 44,305 calls and inquiries in 2011, 323 more than the preceding year.
The staff handles all in-coming emergency and business calls and dispatches for the police department (two frequencies), fire/rescue (two frequencies and three mutual aid channels), the ambulance service, animal control, seasonal employees, including life guards, ski patrol and traffic control and all other town departments after normal business hours.
Lyons says members of her staff are the unsung heroes in the public safety domain, for they also handled 4,183 walk ins, many of whom are in distress, or impaired in some form and in need of immediate assistance. Her annual report to the town mentions that it is not uncommon for dispatch staff to mediate a dispute while waiting for an officer to intervene.