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The FY 2023 Budget: Police Chief Ricciardelli outlines the key features of his proposed Saugus Police Department spending plan

Saugus Police Chief Michael Ricciardelli (2)-2
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  Like every other department in Saugus town government, COVID-19 created some unique challenges for the Police Department over the past two years, according to Saugus Police Chief Michael Ricciardelli.

  The chief noted that the department’s interaction with the public decreased over that period. “Unfortunately, we had to continue to put a lot of community engagement programs on hold,” Chief Ricciardelli wrote in his FY 2023 budget proposal booklet presented to Finance Committee members at Wednesday (March 16) night’s meeting.

  “Our hope is that we are near the end of the pandemic,” the chief said, adding “so we can continue to reach out to the community with our Citizen Police Academy, National Night Out, District Attorney’s Summer Camp, Post Overdose Opiate Outreach and National Drug Take Back.”

  “We will continue to work with town department and different groups/organizations within the town in an effort to engage with the community, develop partnerships and proactively address the concerns of the community,” he said. “In closing, it is the goal of the Saugus Police Department to not only enforce the laws of the commonwealth and the bylaws of the town, but to make a significant impact on the quality of life issues for our residents.”

  For the most part, Chief Ricciardelli crafted a level-funded budget with very few increases. With the contracts for the Superior Officers’ Association and the Saugus Patrolmen’s Association set to expire on June 30 – the end of the current fiscal year, Chief Ricciardelli requested an additional $283,235 in full-time salaries and wages. The 2023 Fiscal Year budget requests $5.8 million for the 51 patrolmen, nine lieutenants, 10 sergeants, one administrative assistant, one principal clerk, one general assistant and one mechanic.

  In his budget booklet, Chief Ricciardelli noted that the department has increased parking enforcement by hiring an additional part-time enforcement officer. The additional person has resulted in an increase in parking ticket hearings, he said.

  The chief’s proposed overtime budget is $800,000 for the 2023 fiscal year, the same as the current budget. “The Police Department continues to operate with less than our full complement of officers. As a result, the department uses overtime to fill vacancies that are created by officers taking contractual time off,” the chief said. “Due to the staffing issues anytime one officer is absent, the department must fill the shift with overtime. The Police Department has had long term officer injuries, family medical leave, military drills/deployments and vacancies due to retirements which have added to the ongoing staffing issue.

  The chief’s proposed budget for the 2023 fiscal year includes $316,572 for overtime training – a $60,669 increase over the existing budget. The Municipal Police Training Committee (MPTC) has mandated eight hours of professional development training. Recently, the MPTC expanded the hours from eight to 20. The new required training courses include Cultural Competency, Emergencies Involving the Mentally Ill, De-escalation, Human Trafficking and Officer Wellness series.

  “Training is an investment,” Chief Ricciardelli said.

  “One of the best ways to jeopardize an organization’s future in today’s world and increase the probability of troubled times is to look at training as a cost,” the chief said. “The price of not providing training or providing substandard training that operates as a Band-Aid for real training is dangerous.”

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