By Juhi Varma
This month’s Public Safety Awareness Meeting took place at Temple Tifereth Israel at 539 Salem Street. In attendance were Mayor Gary Christenson, Lieutenant Kevin Molis, Assistant Fire Chief Jack Colangeli, Sergeant Evan Tuxbury, and Department of Public Works (DPW) Director Bob Knox. The mayor thanked Temple President Sara Beardslee and the small audience for venturing out of their homes on the cold snowy Monday night, before proceeding with the monthly updates.
Christenson reminded the audience that the public hearing for the proposed Field of Dreams Ball Park is scheduled to take place Monday, February 4 from 6.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m. in the City Council chambers. “We’re also debating a three year Capital Improvement Plan—log on to cityofmalden.org—it’s a $22 million proposal and it includes equipment needs for police, fire, and DPW and also has a number of park restoration projects. Next spring and summer we’re really going to try to accelerate streets and sidewalks.”
The mayor continued, “Another nine officers will be sent to the academy; they’ll come on board in March or April. One thing we’ve changed in the philosophy of Malden police officers is that before we would wait ’til someone from the department retired before filling the position. What we’re doing now is trying to anticipate when someone might leave, either because of the state statute which requires a person above age 65 should retire or otherwise.”
The city is in the process of narrowing down candidates to replace Malden Police Chief James Holland, who will soon retire.
“From last August, when we met at Lincoln Commons, the Malden PD has been meeting with the Middlesex District Attorney’s office, and they’ve been working together to try and track the problematic people we have in our city,” the mayor said, referring to the high voltage meeting which took place in the Ward 7 park following a shoot-out. “We’re also trying to bring in an organization to help with some of these high impact players. The police have known for many years who the problematic people are—the question is what to do with them, and we’re going to try and answer that question.”
(Incidentally, earlier on Monday, the mayor had spoken in support of updating wire-tapping laws at the Attorney General’s press conference.) “Today we can only use it (wire-tapping) for 15 days, and with the change in technology it’s really important that we stay up to date with what the criminals might be using to communicate with each other, and that’s what this wire-tap law would do if the legislature were to adopt it. We’re hoping that it will become a law,” the mayor said, before turning the floor over to Molis.
“Usually I talk about what happened in Malden during the past month,” Molis began. “Today, I’m going to try and give you a better understanding of the volume of work that the police deal with. Over the past 30 days in Malden, from Dec. 27, the police actually responded to 2,206 calls.” These calls, which can run the gamut from broken water pipes to serious violent crimes, require a police officer to be dispatched every 19 minutes. “That should give you an idea about how much work a police officer faces,” said Molis. “Over the past 30 days more than 90 people have been taken into custody on a variety of charges, ranging from misdemeanors to felonies. There have been some serious criminal events this month, including three armed robberies.” Molis ended with his customary warnings, reminding citizens to protect themselves against home invasions and to not hesitate to report suspicious activities to the police.
Assistant Fire Chief Jack Colangeli’s report was shorter, possibly because the frigid weather and constant snow and rain are good at keeping blazes at bay. However, he did remind citizens to be careful around space heaters and double-check their fire and carbon dioxide detectors. “Space heaters draw a lot of current, so you should never have one plugged into strip plugs, always in an outlet. And it should be no closer than 4 ft. to anything that can catch fire—couches, bookshelves, etc. Make sure your smoke detectors are working properly; they’re the first line of defense against fire fatalities. Carbon dioxide detectors are relatively new in the market, but worth it, when you consider the price you’d pay without them.”
DPW Director Bob Knox spoke about ice and snow removal, encouraging citizens to call the DPW at 781-397-7162, should they need anything. “Please don’t throw any snow or ice back on the street, it makes our job a little more difficult,” he said.