HAVERHILL — The patrolman’s union has agreed to allow the city to install GPS tracking devices in all police cruisers as part of a new contract approved by City Council this week.
The devices, which allow supervisors to monitor the location of cruisers at all times, are expected to lead to faster response times by giving dispatchers the ability to send the closest officers to emergencies and other service calls.
The tracking systems, called automatic vehicle locators in the police contract, have been controversial in cities that have approved their use among officers who worry they will be used punitively to monitor their every move.
Police departments in Lowell and Somerville are already using GPS in cruisers and Boston is about to begin using them in its police fleet.
Mayor James Fiorentini said it will be up to police Chief Alan DeNaro to decide when Haverhill’s GPS devices will be purchased and installed.
In an email to The Eagle-Tribune, DeNaro said it’s up to Fiorentini to provide money to buy the GPS equipment. The chief said he would comment further when the department is closer to a launch date.
Patrolman Rick Welch, president of the patrolman’s union, did not return a phone message and email seeking his comment for this story.
Haverhill City Solicitor William Cox, who helped negotiate the new police contract, said he expects more cities will soon be installing GPS systems in police cruisers as well as other municipal vehicles.
Methuen Mayor Stephen Zanni said he intends to look at GPS technology when contract talks begin with his city’s police union.
“I want to better understand the cost and the pros and cons, but it’s definitely something we’ll look at,” Zanni said, noting the current Methuen police deal expires this summer.