Sheriff Questions Freedom Police Over Response Time

Freedom — November 5, 2009 — The County Sheriff says Freedom Police took too long to answer a late night 911 emergency call last month. But Freedom’s police chief said his officer responded promptly given that he was on call.

Sheriff Christopher Conley is launching a formal inquiry into why it took county dispatchers about five minutes and three attempts to call a Freedom police officer to respond to a domestic violence call at around 3:22 a.m. on Oct. 25. Conley said as of Tuesday morning, Freedom police have not responded to his written requests for information. On Tuesday night, Freedom Police Chief Josh Shackford said he was preparing to send Conley a response.

The dispatcher called the officer’s cell phone, pager, and home phone number. State police were also dispatched to the incident because, according to police protocol, officers don’t respond to domestic violence calls alone. During the call to the home phone, someone hung up but it’s not clear who did, said Conley. Five minutes after the initial 911 call to dispatch, the Freedom officer called dispatch back, said Conley, who wants an officer to be dispatched in one minute.

“I want a cop to answer the phone 100 percent of the time with zero defects,” said Conley on Tuesday. “We can’t have errors in the communication business because the stakes are too high.”

The incident on Oct. 25 was the second time county dispatchers had difficulty finding a Freedom Officer to respond. However, the previous incident was less serious. But Freedom Police Chief Josh Shackford said it only took two minutes for his officer to call dispatch, which is within the industry standard of three minutes.

“I’m not sure where the problem lies,” said Shackford. “I’m not seeing the five minute gap.”

According to Shackford, the original call to the officer came in at 3:27 a.m. and the Freedom officer called dispatch back at 3:29 a.m. At that hour, Freedom has an officer on call but he or she would likely be sleeping. Ultimately, the Freedom police were able to arrest the underage suspect for internal possession of alcohol, and he was taken to jail, said Shackford.

Freedom Police don’t have the budget to keep an officer in uniform 24 hours per day and officers are not paid while they’re on call, Shackford said. The only way to improve response time would be to increase his department’s manpower and the cost would be “huge,” said Shackford.

Selectman Neal Boyle asked how many officers it would take to have the Freedom Police operate 24 hours per day. Shackford replied the department would need to triple it’s manpower to at least nine officers and police department facility would also need to be upgraded. Shackford said he’s open to listening to alternatives to adding officers.

The issue was made public during Monday night’s selectmen’s meeting. Selectmen discussed contacting the County Commission and inviting the Sheriff to a selectmen’s meeting. Conley said he’d like to coordinate with Freedom so response times can be improved. Conley added he’s always been willing to accommodate requests for help. Conley said he’s not inquiring about response times in other towns.

In other business, the selectmen are drafting a warrant article limiting use of fireworks to four days before and four days after Independence Day. During that period, fireworks could be shot off until 10 p.m. Selectmen will likely continue drafting the fireworks warrant article at their next meeting on Monday. Selectmen hope to present residents with the warrant article in March.

12 Comments

  1. gregory 12 years ago November 10, 2009

    Freedom’s property tax rate should support a better police department. Where does all the money go?. Maybe the selectmen are spending too much time and money defending mariner owners and the like.

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  2. Don 12 years ago November 10, 2009

    Maybe its time to get over it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  3. gregory 12 years ago November 11, 2009

    I don’t think so.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Should we use the favorite expression of all the politicians ” Lets put it behind us and move forward.” or insist that we get our monies worth.

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  4. Jim 12 years ago November 11, 2009

    Let’s get real here. What is the frequency of these so called unable to contact an officer. If you want 24 instaneanous coverage move to the city and pay their tax rate. Our tax rate is one of the lowest in the state, don’t screw it up with stupid requests

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  5. Norm Met 12 years ago November 12, 2009

    Let’s get really real here. If an officer is being paid to be on-call, shouldn’t he answer? Duty is duty. I support all law enforcerment personnel, but they seem frustrated within their ranks.

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  6. gregory 12 years ago November 12, 2009

    lets get really really real, if you or a family member were in need of life threatening help, would it still be a stupid request to put money into the police dept. if there’s a need.

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  7. Mike D 12 years ago November 12, 2009

    I believe the article says the officers are not paid while on call.
    As far as the marina comment some people won’t give up no matter how ridiculous the comment. I suppose the marina is responsible for our national debt too ?

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  8. gregory 12 years ago November 12, 2009

    Yes your absolutely correct what the article reads, did someone read it to you? As far as the marina issue, its responsible for a portion of the towns debt. You folks miss the whole point, Maybe the town needs more officers on full time duty to answer emergency calls. In case you haven’t noticed things have changed since the 19th century. And no!! some people won’t give up on the issue of using taxpayers money to fund a private appeal. It’s wrong it’s wrong, it’s down right brazenly criminal.

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  9. not in freedom 12 years ago November 12, 2009

    hello you people have not figured it out? ” Shackford replied the department would need to triple it’s manpower to at least nine officers” you have 3 officers working 7 days a week hello, it is time to hire more, they do too much

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  10. Don 12 years ago November 13, 2009

    Why don’t you post (with proof) what the town has paid to date on the marina issue, since you know so much. If you don’t like the response time you can move to a city that has round the clock police and fire, that should solve the problem. Maybe one without a marina to blame ALL your problems on. If people would go back to helping each other out instead of relying on government there would be less problems.

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  11. Mike D 12 years ago November 16, 2009

    Why not blame your officials instead of constantly blaming the marina ? G, have someone translate that one for you.

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  12. Fred 12 years ago November 16, 2009

    as a retired sergeant from a ny sheriff’s office and a part time Freedom resident I also think that it is time to beef up the Freedom Police Dept

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