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Police alter shifts
Extra officer to work at peak times

Thursday, June 12, 2014

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

The Martinsville Police Department has slightly changed some of its patrol officers’ schedules so an additional officer will be on duty during its busiest hours and police can be more visible in neighborhoods.

Recently hired Police Chief Sean Dunn announced the changes during a Martinsville City Council meeting Tuesday night.

The police department has four squads, each of which currently has seven officers and works a 12-hour shift that changes at either 7 a.m. or 7 p.m.

The way that schedules are arranged, two squads are on duty and off duty daily, and the squads work three-day weekends every other week, according to Dunn.

Under the schedule change, which took effect June 2, each squad has an officer who comes in three hours late when working the day shift and two hours early when working the night shift, Dunn said.

That officer will work from either 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. or 5 p.m. to 5 a.m., he said. That will allow an extra patrol officer to be on duty during times when the department usually gets most of its assistance calls, which is 5-10 p.m. weekdays and 5 p.m.-1 a.m. weekends, he added.

“It’s like an overlapping shift,” with an extra officer on duty for a few hours during peak times on each shift, Assistant Police Chief Eddie Cassady said.

The extra officers usually will be on “proactive patrol,” trying to get to know residents of the neighborhoods where they work, especially “problem areas,” Dunn said.

Those areas include parts of Martinsville’s south and west sides and Wilson Park, although there are areas citywide where crime and mischief seem more likely to occur, he said.

Dunn said the department wants patrol officers “to get out of their cars, walk through their areas and talk with citizens” as much as possible, and having the extra officer during peak call hours will help with that.

However, the officer on proactive patrol can quickly move to regular policing if calls for assistance get backed up or a “high priority” call — such as one in which someone’s life is being threatened — is received, Dunn said.

The schedule change came about as a result of ideas put forth in meetings between police Capt. Marshall Thomas and his lieutenants.

“They felt this would allow us to better serve our citizens without any group (shift) having to give up staff,” Dunn said.

The change will be evaluated within a few months and if it is determined to have been beneficial, “we’ll keep it going,” Dunn said.

Also Tuesday, the council:

• Learned that the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. (EDC) is actively courting nine prospective industries, according to President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Heath.

As the economy improves, “there is a lot of interest in our community” by companies, including retailers, Heath said.

He noted the recent openings of Visions Hair Salon in Martinsville; The Pick and Roll in Martinsville and The Pacific Bay in Collinsville, both of which are restaurants; and an online business in Collinsville, RaesWear.

Heath also mentioned the planned openings of some businesses, including a Crossfit Gym 276 in Martinsville and a Family Dollar store near Axton.

• Approved routine-type budget amendments.

A total of $77,038 in “pass-through funding” from the state was placed in the city’s Community Development Block Grant Fund for the benefit of the New College Institute’s new building under construction uptown.

Also, $10,000 in federal money was put in the federal programs fund. A document indicates the money will be used by the city schools toward educational supplies and employee training and benefit costs.

A reimbursement of $800 for the use of city facilities was placed in the general fund. A document did not identify the user.

• Proclaimed Saturday as Flag Day in Martinsville.

At 11 a.m. that day, the Patrick Henry and Joseph Martin Chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution will hold a Flag Day ceremony on the front lawn of the Martinsville Fire Department on West Church Street.

Mayor Kim Adkins asked city residents to take a moment on Saturday to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

• Met with legal counsel in closed session. No action was taken afterward.


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