Public safety top priority
Theft of a firearm and a battery incident caused community members to raise concerns over public safety in Peabody at Monday’s city council meeting.
Police chief Bruce Burke said he began having on-call officers stay in Peabody after an incident where it took 35 minutes for police to respond to a call.
“I put the policy back to the way it used to be that they have to be in the zip code,” he said. “That’s the way it was for a number of years. My current staff doesn’t have any problems with that.”
Officer Josh Wilson, a Newton resident, now stays with family in Peabody when on call. He has made multiple trips to follow up with Kayla Good, the victim of the battery incident.
Good said she was impressed by Peabody Police Department’s cooperation with her since then.
“I’m not attacking,” Kayla Good said. “After the conversation I had with chief Burke and officer Wilson, we’re optimistic.”
However, the community’s lack of consistent positive interaction with police makes building relationships difficult, said Hannah Bourbon, a local employee and Peabody-Burns parent.
“We don’t call a police officer a cop,” she said. “We respect them. But these people behind me, some of them have been intimidated, hurt, and don’t trust the police officers in this town. That makes me upset.”
Organizing community events with council members and officers both present could foster interaction with residents and improve transparency, Bourbon said.
“I don’t even know the police officers anymore,” Bourbon said. “Growing up, I knew every one of them, and when they were on duty. That’s how well I knew my town.”
There have been recent incidents of doors being knocked on at night that put several community members on edge.
Maintaining a social media page would be a way for residents to share information with the department, Good said.
“I’d rather people in the town complain to you, than have us not know what is going on,” she said. “I’ve had several people tell me through personal means that they had something similar happen.”
Social media would keep residents in the know when positive change occurs as well, Bourbon said.
“Toot your horn,” Bourbon said. “We’re so excited. We’re going to let people know our town is safe. We have to know that to get it out there.”
However, social media can lead to inaccurate information from unofficial sources, and a page could get cluttered with less important information, councilman Jay Gfeller said.
“It turns into the same issue the public page had when it got locked down,” he said.
A page administrator could be set to restrict who could make posts, which would prevent the problems from the city page, council member Rick Reynolds said.