Recovery Act Impact: Wareham Police Departmenrt
Stanley should know. After 25 years as the police chief in North Andover he came to Wareham in 2009 to help overhaul what was then a struggling police department in this beautiful coastal town. Stanley wanted to implement a number of new initiatives that he believed would have long term impact on the quality of life for Wareham's residents but funding was an issue.
"The stimulus money was important for us to show people what we can do," said Stanley. "We proved our case with the stimulus funds."
The Wareham Police Department received two Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants through the stimulus program for a total of approximately $242,000.
The funds helped the department in this town of 25,000 - in the summer that population number triples -- go from what Wareham Lieutenant John Walsh describes as a "sinking ship, constantly trying to bail out" to being an organization that everyone on the force is proud to be part of. "Morale went from rock bottom to soaring," said Walsh. "If it wasn't for the grants we couldn't do it."
The Department was also to reopen its records division, which had been closed for three years, thanks to a new high density filing system. They were also able to hire a full time records clerk.
Perhaps most significantly, funds were used for officer's overtime costs - crucial to a department that was attempting to clean up problems areas in its midst. "Patrolling and traffic enforcement was haphazard before," said Stanley.
Now, the department was able to develop an organized approach to enforcement that has resulted in increased citations and more arrests. The new directive patrol system that was implemented led to an increase in calls for service last year from 20,000 to 50,000.
Once the town saw the impact these stimulus-funded changes had on Wareham, the approval to sustain these programs was received.
"With the stimulus money we proved a point," said Stanley. "Everyone bought in and the town saw they needed to make this a priority. I was poised to move this organization forward quickly but you can't do that without funding. You can have a group of well-intentioned people, like we have in the Wareham Police Department, you can have leadership to expedite and change the town but without funding you are not going anywhere. The stimulus money was the seed to make this all happen. This is a stimulus success story."