LOWELL — The City Council gave its backing Tuesday night to a councilor’s request that the administration consider increasing the number of neighborhood police precincts in the city.
The council unanimously approved Councilor Rodney Elliott’s motion that also requested City Manager Bernie Lynch report on the status of police precincts, with Elliott asking for a report looking at changes in the number of precincts going back five years.
Elliott said he would like to see more precincts spread throughout the city’s different neighborhoods as part of Lowell’s efforts to restore its community-policing operation, something new Police Superintendent William Taylor has said is one of his top priorities.
Elliott pointed to a 2009 report funded by the U.
S. Department of Justice, which evaluated the implementation of community-policing programs in 12 communities across the country, including Lowell. He said the report highlighted the importance of police precincts, which he said could be one tool to help the city address the crime issues it faces.
“More precincts would send the message that we are serious about returning to community policing,” said Elliott, adding that it seems like there are not as many precincts as there once was in the city.
Lynch told the council there are nine precincts in the city, and he will provide a more detailed report in response to the motion.
Lynch said one challenge has been finding people to staff or volunteer at the different sites.
Superintendent Taylor met with the UMass Lowell police chief Tuesday, said Lynch, and one topic discussed was the potential for UMass Lowell students studying criminal justice to intern at some of the police precincts.
Lynch told The Sun he is open to adding precincts, which can be used for officers to write reports, as well as be community meeting spaces.
“Having visible police precincts that are a place where people can come down and meet with police or volunteers is very useful,” Lynch said after the meeting.
City Councilor Joseph Mendonca said it will cost the city money to add precincts, but if the city decides to do so, it should put them in places where they are very visible.
“They need to be in places that impact the neighborhoods,” Mendonca told The Sun.
During his swearing-in ceremony Monday, Taylor told the audience it was working at the city’s police precinct in the heart of the Acre neighborhood nearly 20 years ago when he really saw the effectiveness of community policing.
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