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Haverhill

May 22, 2014

Mayor, chief spar over police spending

DeNaro letter says force needs more money

HAVERHILL — Police Chief Alan DeNaro said he needs a lot more help than Mayor James Fiorentini is willing to give him to reduce crime.

DeNaro said he scaled back his official budget request due to the mayor’s order that the chief limit additional police spending to 1.5 percent over the current year’s budget.

“Per your order, I have removed all of the budget additions I have recommended necessary to provide police services to the citizens of Haverhill,” DeNaro said in a letter to Fiorentini obtained by The Eagle-Tribune.

The chief’s official budget request is different from the one he submitted to the mayor last month, in which he listed what he really needs to run the department properly.

DeNaro’s official “sanitized” budget, as he described it when talking to city councilors last month, asks for two more police officers. In reality, he needs seven more officers, he said in the letter to the mayor.

The chief’s letter includes about $685,000 in priority spending that he omitted from his official request.

The largest item in the chief’s letter is $367,825 to fix the police station roof. DeNaro said the roof is badly deteriorated and that the 15-year-old building may have already sustained significant water damage.

The chief’s letter said he needs seven new police officers, five more than Fiorentini is offering. An additional five cops would cost $212,000 per year, according to the chief’s letter.

Councilors have said adding officers and bolstering the Police Department is their top budget priority for the new fiscal year, which starts July 1.

They said lowering the crime rate is critical to saving the city’s reputation in the wake of recent high-profile and gang-related violent crimes and the FBI’s recent ranking of Haverhill as the 15th most dangerous city in Massachusetts. The ranking is based on 2012 violent crime statistics, the most recent available. The FBI analysis showed the city was more dangerous in 2012 than in the previous year, when Haverhill ranked 22nd on the list.

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