May 22, 2013
Written by The Ridgefield Press
Monday, 07 November 2011 06:34
Are Ridgefield police too aggressive, or not aggressive enough, in any areas of enforcement? How about efforts to control teen partying? Could regional dispatching work? The Press asked Police Commission candidates.
Three candidates — Republican Charles Knoche and Democrats George Kain and Joseph Adams — are competing for the two open seats on the five-member Police Commission. Mr. Kain and Mr. Knoche are incumbents, while Mr. Adams is a former Police Commission member.Here are The Press’s question and their answers:
What do you think of the department’s approach on teenage partying, underage drinking and illegal drug use?
Kain: The RPD has taken an aggressive stand regarding both prevention and enforcement on teen drinking and drug use. Through the PD partnership with the Ridgefield Coalition on Substance Abuse as well as the Ridgefield PTA and PTSA, we are involved in education and intervention programs, which focus on dealing with this problem. Our Youth Officer as well as our School Resource Officer are involved in monitoring and intervening through our town teen substance abuse prevention programs. Still, this problem will never be solved by police intervention alone. This is a community-wide problem, which requires all of our attention, involvement, and cooperation.
Adams: The present approach, in my opinion, is effective.
I worked as a para-educator at the high school and observed the police resource officer assigned doing an effective job in bringing arrests to those students who were involved with drugs.
In my neighborhood in the last few years there was one incident of underage drinking. The police responded quickly, dispersed the attendees and made arrests.
Knoche: I feel the Police Department is doing a good job. We are being diligent with the resources that are available to us. We have many programs in place and ways to monitor these situations, which I will not mention. Although we cannot control and catch everyone, we are effectively hampering and stopping some of these parties before they start. We continue to educate the public and parents as to the seriousness and stiff consequences to these allowed parties. More times than not, we become aware of these illegal situations and keep them in check before becoming dangerous situations.
Are there any areas you would like to see the RPD be more or less aggressive in their enforcement?
Kain: Residents may surprised to learn that we frequently hear complaints that our officers should actually write more traffic tickets! Children are especially put at risk by speeding vehicles. Our officers use wise discretion when issuing tickets and are willing to issue warnings in lieu of tickets when called for. I am also concerned about personal identity theft in our town, and we need to stay vigilant to prevent this kind of personal attack from happening.
Adams: More aggressive: Pedestrian crosswalk enforcement for those failing to yield. Vehicles which roll past the painted stop bar and vehicles which fail to signal. Saturday enforcement for vehicles blocking the intersections on Main Street (spillbacks).
I would also, if elected, try to get the town to modify the 25 MPH speed limit on certain town roads, such as Ridgebury Road, George Washington Highway.
Less aggressive: None.
Knoche: I believe we have a good balance of service. We are operating with reduced manpower but when we fill those positions, we can ramp up youth programs and traffic control such as radar, etc. Our department statistics are very good and the RPD is highly thought of and called upon by other departments and agencies throughout the state, which we can all be proud of our fine women and men of the RPD!
How do you view the idea of regional police dispatching?
Kain: My personal involvement in many meetings to analyze the viability of converting to regional dispatching with other towns in Fairfield County revealed that this is not what our town should be involved in. The quality of service which we have worked so hard to maintain would be severely compromised by such a change.
Adams: I am very highly qualified to answer this as a police dispatcher with a combined experience of 14 years with Norwalk and Redding. Regional Police Dispatching does not/will not work. Local police communications have a “hot line” band available for calling for assistance from other departments, such as in a pursuit.
Knoche: As commission chairman, I formed a committee of two commissioners and the major to research this by attending meetings, gathering info, etc. Job well done! There were two items to consider: the safety/welfare of the citizenry and cost savings to taxpayers. Results showed it’s not cost-effective and would drastically reduce quality of service.
Charles Knoche, the commission’s current chairman and a 16-year incumbent, has worked as a Realtor of 35 years and is a former member of the Board of Selectmen.
George Kain is a professor of criminal justice at Western Connecticut State University, a former Connecticut probation officer and a 12-year incumbent on the commission.
Joseph Adams served previously on Ridgefield’s Police Commission, has been a constable, served on the fire police, and has worked as a police dispatcher for two nearby towns. He worked as a special education paraprofessional for the Ridgefield Schools, and served on the town’s Commission for the Disabled. He is retired from a business career that included chemical engineering and 31 years in voice and data sales.
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