HINESBURGThe Hinesburg Community Police Department, in a coordinated effort with the Towns of Hinesburg and Meredith, New Hampshirebased organization Municipal Resources, Inc., is working toward the development of a strategic plan. According to Hinesburg Town Administrator Jeanne Wilson, the first step towards developing the plan is the completion of a townwide survey.
The community survey is designed to provide a better understanding of the perceptions and wishes of the Hinesburg citizens about policing the community, said Wilson.
The purpose of the project as a whole is to create a five-year strategic plan for the HCPD. The Hinesburg selectboard, municipal staff, members of the police department and the community are all working together on the project.
The results of the survey will be used in the development of the five-year plan, the goal of which is to enhance the policing methods of the Hinesburg Community Police Department by focusing on the community's desires, and also to direct the department "as the agency strives to provide the most responsive, cost-efficient and compassionate police services possible," according to the survey.
In addition to the survey, a number of interviews will be conducted with police-department personnel.
Basically, the interviews will be with police officers to get their feedback individually and find out what their needs are, said Wilson.
After the survey and interviews are completed, a number of focus groups will be formed to establish a more concrete layout for the department's future.
Three to four different focus groups will be formed, said Wilson. We will invite participants from the community from all demographics. The focus groups will see what potential further needs and information is required beyond the superficial information provided by the survey.
Finally, a community forum will be held during which community members can share specific ideas and voice further concerns, using the survey as a basis to streamline the meeting. According to Wilson, one of the survey's other purposes will be to lend structure to the forum and provide a framework for the future.
The HCPD was founded in 1988 when a constable was named and given traffic enforcement duties. Over the years, part-time officers were brought in from other police departments to help the constable with traffic duties, until the town finally hired a full time police chief in 1994.
It's not that old of a department, really," said Wilson. There is a growing need to define what our community wants from the department and in turn to establish how much funding it needs.
Last year, said Wilson, it became apparent to Hinesburg Town officials and citizens that the police were being overworked. It was at this time that the department approached the town with a proposal to add 2.7 officers to the force. In the end, Hinesburg approved one new position for the HCPD.
In August of this year, the Town of Hinesburg released a document entitled Request for Proposals: Town of Hinesburg Strategic Planning for Community Police Department. The Request for Proposals, or RFP, stated that: The growth in the Community Police Department has been reactive, not proactive, and would benefit greatly from a well thought out five-year plan. For the most part, personnel and equipment have been added to the department based on availability of grant funds and taxpayer dollars, not according to a long range plan which encompasses projected population growth, changing demographics and community goals.
To aid the Selectboard and the police department, the town enlisted the services of Municipal Resources, Inc. While consulting with the Town Administrator and town staff through several evening meetings in the coming months, the organization will perform five key duties: research and collect data; interview town staff and selectboard; collect community input; prepare a draft strategic plan; and, finally, prepare a final strategic plan.
This particular firm was chosen by the Selectboard due to their extensive experience and dedication to small municipalities, as the company's president himself was a former Municipal Manager.
We felt this company could identify with and address our municipal needs, said Wilson. They are different from a business in the private sector because they understand the needs of our taxpayers and they are rooted in local government.
The community wide survey is available online at hpd.municipalresources.com . Computers are available at the Carpenter Carse Library for those who do not have internet access at home. If you prefer to complete a hard copy of the survey, call toll free at 1-866-501-0352 to have a survey sent to your home. Or, simply visit the Hinesburg Town Hall to pick up a copy. The drop box for completed surveys is also located at the town hall. For more information, please contact Jeanne Wilson, Hinesburg Town Administrator, at 482-2096 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org