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Tonight's Pittsfield Police/Fire/Emergency Management budget will be discussed at 7 p.m. Eastern.

I'll be covering it for @WAMCNews.

You can watch here:…
The first speaker is calling on the council to deny the police department's proposed budget increase and level fund them for the year.
She says "safety does not grow from policing," saying that spending more money will not solve the city's issues with crime.
(This is the public comment section)
The speaker says that panel discussions and free ice cream are not systemic change.
The second public comment section speaker echoes the comments of the first, agreeing that the department should be level funded. Both have mentioned the need to invest in social programs.
The third public speaker is very much in the same camp. Says the budget does not represent the community, leadership has been hypocritical about being progressive.
The speaker says that the 4.8% increase is not strictly contractual- notes over $40k in non-contractual spending. Also questions the doubling of the ammunition budget, among other examples.
The 4th speaker joins the chorus of budget critics.
So far everyone who's tried to call in has successfully gotten through, which is a big change in pace from last week. The 5th speaker is a teacher, who notes that the schools will feel cuts while the police in the presented budget get an increase.
So far no one has said "defund the police."
Well the run of successful callers just got broken up with a dead line. But we're back with another speaker! Also a critic of the increased police spending, cites the school cuts, "wrong priorities." Says that the pandemic is hardest on the most vulnerable.
A call for spending on young people now more than ever.
The next successful caller is yet another critic of the budget.
A couple unsuccessful callers. Now a third. We were on such a tear a minute ago. Now a fourth.
Zoom And Contemporary Municipal Politics: A Treatise
One of the callers managed to get through, so the public comments continue with another Pittsfielder against more police spending. She has used the word "defunding" for the first time of the night. Is speaking out against ShotSpotter, nonlethal rounds.
I think someone is speaking without knowing they're on with the meeting.
Keeps mumbling "I'm not getting heard tonight." Eerie.
This next caller is yet another critic of the budget, albeit more mildly than earlier speakers.
Now there's phantom typing and beeping and a nose blow in the meeting. Zoom!
This speaker is coming out very aggressively against unchecked police spending. Brings up the schools facing unprecedented budget cuts, notes the ammunition line item of $30k.
Another caller, another call to not spend more on police and instead on the schools.
This caller says that strong public schools are what can draw diversity to the Berkshires, and must be supported. With that, the public comment section ends.
Police department budget is now on the table. Around $11.5 million, up 4.8% from last year.
Persip immediately says that this is not cops vs. teachers, wants to differentiate the two budgets and deal with each separately.
Persip asks chief Wynn to explain why the department is budgeted for a staff of 99 specifically (it historically comes in at the high 80s). Wynn says it comes from the international association of chiefs and data about crime. Says 110-120 is what the city actually needs.
Says 10% unable to report for duty usually, so 110-120 would actually be the best.
Wynn says Pittsfield is unique among similarly sized cities, has to provide urban and rural services and mix styles of policing.
Cites animal control, agricultural issues on the rural front.
Persip is going down the line items. Some increases are due to contractual obligations, says Wynn.
Safety officer position called for $93k originally, ended up at $67k Persip notes. Wynn attributes it to a retirement.
Wynn says overtime is generated by training programs, filling in for officers who are out for a variety of reasons. Says 12 dispatchers is just enough to fill the shifts. Persip says their OT for this year has just $16k left in it as budgeted.
Persip is asking how much OT to expect in the fiscal year's remaining payroll and a half.
He's also asking why the city had to spend an additional $56k this year on OT. Wynn says people coming in and out of the positions lead to more spending.
Wynn says that the department always budgets for 12 dispatchers, regardless if those positions are filled, because it's the number they need to be able to fill for it to be operational.
Wynn says a fund for officers to receive educational incentives has been moved from its own line item to a contractual obligations line item.
But the chief can't find where the line item and it's budget numbers were moved too.
Finance czar Kerwood finds it. Says the education incentives were packaged with salaries.
Student officer line item increased $110k. Wynn says the move was to bring in 12 additional officers this year to get to 99, says the money was for training academy supplies- around $8k a student officer.
Persip does the math. Says its should be $104k, not $110k. Wynn says that it was originally left larger to account for the potential for more student officers.
Persip wants to cut the line item by $50k. Wynn says he can live with it.
Moon asks how many officers we have today. Wynn says 85 today, 84 tomorrow. Potential officers- 4 in the academy, 13 who could be sent to the academy.
Moon supports the student officer expenses cut Persip has proposed.
Moon is asking what happens to the money from unfilled positions. Wynn says it is used to "offset internal deficits" within the Pittsfield PD.
Field training apparently is another source of OT.
Moon asks what happens to candidates who fail the academy. Wynn is breaking down various scenarios.
He's underscoring his belief again that not all of the prospective officers will make it to the payroll.
The vote goes through, and $50k is cut from the student officer line item. The first cut of the night.
"Maintenance and support" line item is up for discussion. Went up 12.5% or $26.6k from the year before.
Drug enforcement expenses went up 68% to $6,800. Wynn says they're cell phone expenses for the unit. Says they usually use their fund established by seized money to fund that, but it isn't "replenishing" right now, hence the line item.
With ammunition spending- doubled to $30k from 2k19 to 2k20- wynn says the state requires officers to discharge weapons for training. Says that it is state-mandated shooting. Says the original request was closer to $60k.
Fleet maintenance up 30% to $15k.
Persip says with special events largely canceled, he wants to cut the $120k special event OT line item.
While drug enforcement OT is cut 4.4% or $10k to $215k, scheduled overtime is up 27.5% or $275k to $1.275 million.
Wynn notes that he does not get overtime.
The new community outreach OT line item is $12.5k.
Persip asks the Mayor to move $50k from special event OT to community outreach OT. This is instead of an outright cut. He says this move fulfills callers' desire for a change in policing philosophy.
Moon is against it. Says that no one asked for funds to be reallocated within the police budget, but that callers and emails want money moved to social services outside the department. Essentially says Persip was outright wrong.
Moon says cops handing out ice cream is not what people want, that social engagement doesn't replace systemic concerns about discrimination and abuse.
Maffuccio agrees.
Caccamo asks if Wynn anticipates needing that $120k in special events OT given the pandemic. Wynn says probably not, but says with protests and reopening, there will still be special event OT to pay out.
White asks if the money could instead be used towards more beat patrols in the west side. Wynn says that's a different line item. White says walking around getting to know people isn't enforcing exactly. He says he wants to fulfill a request by west side community groups.
White supports Persip's request to the mayor to move the $50k from special events OT to community outreach.
Time and a half on their rate of pay is how each officer's OT is calculated.
Moon says she's confused why walking the beat would be overtime, and why that wouldn't already be part of the job.
She says the community has asked for a reduction to the police department, not moving around line items- something she says happens far too much already.
She says special events are canceled due to covid, so let's cut that line by $50k. Persip says he recieved just as many emails from folks asking for the department to be maintained. He says the efforts aren't "anything perfect" but they're the beginning of reform... focus on community outreach and better integrating cops into the community.
On the $50k shift: 8 no votes kill it. Only Marchetti, Persip, and White voted for it. Now Persip moves to cut $50k from the special events overtime budget.
The Pittsfield City Council's second cut to the police budget ($50k in special events overtime) pushes the total cuts in the $11.5 million budget to $100,000 so far.
Persip wants to expand the role of clinicians with the department by moving budgeted money from the unfilled patrol positions to hire more clinicians for the department.
The mayor supports it.
The department does not fund its current clinician, who is paid for by the Brien Center. A new line item would have to be added. Kerwood says they would have to create the positions, job descriptions, and get vetted as well.
Persip and Moon are serving as avatars of a larger conversation: is police reformed by changing its priorities internally, or are funds directed away from departments to other social services entirely?
White is also praising the crisis clinician and says more people like that would make for a better department. But as the chief just mentioned, that clinician is not from the department- an external body funds his work.
White is saying the money should be reallocated from the department to a place like the Brien Center. The new idea is to reallocate patrol money to "temporary labor" so the police department money would be spent on those outside entities through the department budget.
Persip asks if the chief would commit to leaving the money alone strictly for paying for more clinicians. Wynn says he would short of extenuating circumstances. Tyer says if the council approves it, the city would create a new line item for clinicians for the final budget
Persip moves to ask the mayor to move $85k from the patrol budget to the new clinician line item.
Moon says she appreciated the mayor's commitment to transparency and line item integrity, notes that the council can establish its own line item with a 2/3rds vote. Says she wants clinicians, is skeptical of them being in the police budget.
A dog was growling for a second.
Wynn says the current clinician is not yet full time, has other clinical interests. Says further clinicians would not work directly for the department.
More dog snarling.
Moon says police shouldn't be responding to mental health crises at all, notes this weekend's incident where someone in a mental health crisis got a disorderly conduct charge.
She says it's an okay plan in the interim but is not comfortable with paying for clinicians through the police department in the long run. Connell is against reducing the patrol line item.
Connell wants to move OT funds into the patrol fund to reduce OT by hiring more officers.
Marchetti just asked the public to stop using the Zoom chat function. I'm not in the meeting itself, would love to see what they're saying.
Morandi is also against cutting the patrol line. Says the city needs officers.
"We need law and order in the city," says Morandi.
Wynn tells Maffuccio that moving the $85k would set back the recruitment plan by a year. Maffuccio also sees policing as the answer to the city's issues, doesn't want to cut patrol.
Wynn said the move would lead him to pull a couple recruits. Maffuccio doesn't want to risk that.
Wynn says civil service protocols prevent him from hiring anyone who isn't a police officer as it sets forth the guidelines on who can be hired for what.
I.e., you can't hire a clinician under the police officer hiring procedure.
White says the community has been very vocal about its desire for change in the police department.
He says he doesn't want to "reduce for the sake of reducing," wants to see the department provide better services to the community.
He supports a move to spend police funding on clinicians from outside entities.
White asks Wynn if the department got to 99 officers, would it curtail the need for OT. Wynn says yes. White says the budget must be flexible and give the chief the resources he needs, wants to see more clinicians on the street.
He's saying if the city eventually got to 120 officers, it would then no longer need that much policing. Interesting.
Persip says the department is already at 101 with recruits, so it already needs to make 2 cuts. Wynn says no, because he says there are two incoming retirements. Persip says by his own admission, not all the recruits will not finish training. He says 99 won't happen this year.
Kavey is up. He agrees with increasing clinicians, but not through the police department.
Wynn is talking a lot about the limits of civil service hiring processes - worth nothing that Berkshire County's second city, North Adams, removed its department from civil service fully just last year.
Wynn says they have a terrible base pay that is beaten by other Berkshire departments.
Wynn says they currently can't fill shifts without using OT because of their low staff levels.
Moon is asking about data on interactions with the public- how many are mental health related? Wynn says he hasn't been asked to provide that data before though it is kept.
He says the department began tracking it specifically once the pandemic started.
Moon says she supports the move to spend on clinicians as long as data is collected to ensure it is being used correctly.
She doesn't want people to be charged during mental health crises. Wynn says they only charge people who are still in crisis when released from the hospital. Moon digs into that- the department jails people who are in crisis?
Wynn says that the charges are often dropped once they can get the clinician to see the person while being held.
As Moon put it, a whole can of worms there. But anyways! Moon supports the $85k moving from patrol officers to clinicians if the data can support the work. Lampiasi says she hears from constituents is that response times are too slow, as well as calls for restructuring.
Wynn says clinicians are good for cops and the public alike. Lowers time spent on each call. Says officers learn from the alternative methods and compassionate lessons offered by the clinician.
Chief Wynn says the clinician is helping the overburdened, stressed cops too- himself included.
The Pittsfield city council votes to move $85k from the patrol officers budget to the new clinician line item. 8-3. Maffuccio, Morandi and Connell are the only Nos. @WAMCNews
Back to the budget at large. Kavey is up.
He wants to talk about the callers' concerns from earlier- how is the Pittsfield Police Department responding to national calls for reform? Wynn says the state already started the work 5 years ago with Obama's police report. Notes the city's advisory and review board.
He says the department "has addressed a lot of this."
Kavey asks about data transparency. Wynn says the available data is made available online, says it can be abundant and overwhelming. Says the department can improve its data delivery.
He blames tech issues for a failed attempt to reform its data system.
Wynn namechecks the Copsicle program while running down community outreach the department does.
Moon says she compared the actual to the approved for 2019, which is a difference of around $100k. She's asking what happened to the $600k in overages the council voted on at the end of '19. He says if it included payback, it would be in salaries. She says $500k is unaccounted.
Moon says it was in a $1.4 million overages spending vote on snow and ice and police budget spending from June 2019.
That was out of free cash.
Moon is confused as to why that spending isn't included in the budget documents.
Kerwood says it would be reflected in the council order via a specific line item for the transfer.
Moon says she has other questions to ask while Kerwood tries to answer the question about the $500k.
Moon asks about a $17k expenditure that is only in the city's internal budget system (Munis) and not in the main budget. Wynn says it's holdovers.
Moon is asking about the $30k ammo budget- when did the state change its requirements? Wynn says the state shifted the curriculum in 2019.
Moon says that the department needs to explain all of the equipment that it's using. Cites community concerns about militarized equipment.
Moon says changes in Munis saw the equipment go from ~$90k to over ~$200k and broad answers don't answer why that happened or if the city is paying for militarized gear.
Wynn says the department does not use military equipment.
Moon says that as the police are the sole department that can use lethal force, it requires the most transparency- using the way money has been moved around with equipment to illustrate that point.
Now Moon is talking ShotSpotter, the $240k yearly expense to the city that detects gunfire around the city. Wynn says with a low staff, anything that cuts down response times is valuable.
He says he was surprised at how many gun shots go undetected, while noting that it is also less than what was projected. He says personnel spend less time on crime scenes finding evidence thanks to ShotSpotter.
Moon asks how many reports are bogus. Wynn admits: "a lot." Says roofing guns and construction sounds often confuse the system. Says he accepts the bad for the good.
Moon says she is against spending $1.7 mil on overtime total as well as budgeting for unfilled positions on the force.
Moon moves to decrease the scheduled overtime to $1 mil, cutting $275k. She says if it's needed, that's a different conversation, but "we're paying for both ends" right now.
Wynn says if all 4 trainees current at the academy pass they could graduate and join the force by July.
Morandi is against Moon's motion, saying the force must get "back to" 99 (it has never managed to make it to 99).
Maffuccio is against reducing the overtime, says he's against sacrificing both education (see last week's school budget meeting) and public safety. He's happy with just cutting the $100k and reallocating the $85k from patrol to clinicians.
Says he doesn't want to cut any more.
Connell says the council has "diligently" built up the police force over the past decade and says tonight is a step backwards. Says he doesn't understand what's going on. Is asking how outside agencies will enforce the law. Says drugs and gangs are running rampant.
Connell asks if Pittsfield "drinking the kool aid" on nation conversations. Invokes Minneapolis. Says "all lives matter, sure, but what about law and order?"
Connell is very upset about the direction tonight is taking. Says he's against the budget with any more changes.
Moon notes that the city has approved money for 97 police officers and ALSO $1.7 million in overtime. Stays the city has to pay for one or the other but not both.
Moon says this isn't just about Minneapolis- this is a national conversation. Says Pittsfield is effected by that conversation and it's dangerous to say otherwise. Says people of color experience the police differently from city councilors in Pittsfield.
Moon is offering an explanation of "black lives matter" to Connell.
She's saying the neighborhoods will be safer for everyone, all lives, if Pittsfield interrogates how it does its policing.
She says the 4.8% increase doesn't even include law suits and other external things. In a tight year, she says the community wants to see the police treated like all the other budgets and get level funded.
Back to her motion to cut $275k from scheduled overtime. White says the department is at 97.7% use of OT for 2020 right now. Wynn confirms.
White is making the point that if $275k was cut from this year's budget the department would now be in a deficit.
White says he understand why the police department is seeing an increase. Says people want a traffic division and more cops on the street. He says it isn't wasted money.
Wynn says the dept has seen upticks in family violence, and a brief uptick in burglaries since the pandemic started. He says both have stabilized. Says mental health related activity did spike, if not crime generally.
Maffuccio asks what impact the cuts will make on the department (though he gets the numbers wrong). Wynn says the department will make it work regardless of cuts.
Persip pushes back hard on Maffuccio and Connell. Says the cuts are not moving backwards and no one is jeopardizing anyone's lives with cuts. That said, he does not support Moon's overtime cuts.
Cohen earlier said she thought the cuts were reasonable.
On the move to cut scheduled overtime by $275k to $1 mil: Marchetti, no. Connell, no. Morandi, no. Lampiasi, no. Caccamo, no. Persip, no. Maffuccio, no. Moon, yes. White, no. Kavey, yes. Cohen, no.
Motion fails. Scheduled overtime remains at $1.275 million.
Moon goes to Contractual Allowances. It currently has $40k left over from this year according to Munis. It sees a 20.1% increase this year from almost $151k to $177k.
Wynn says that includes uniforms, but moon points out that there's another line item just for uniforms. Wynn says there are different kinds of uniform expenses.
Moon says between those two line items, Munis says there is $50k leftover. She says the department hasn't even gotten to the limit on this years $151k contractual allowance line item- so why is it growing this year? He says they're adding more officers and thus it is higher.
Wynn says some emergency funding went into uniform expenses due to Covid, and that the city hasn't been fully billed yet on other uniform expenses.
Moon moves to reduce the contractual allowances line item to its 2019 level, a move she says she thinks will fail. She says other councilors' support of black lives matter seems like lip service now that the actual forum to make change like the budget is happening.
She says going to rallies and not following it up with actual policy changes means that people are not following through on that gesture.
Moon's motion fails 9-4.
Moon says the black and brown community has asked the council to reallocate funds from the police to services that will not criminalize them and will actually address their needs. She says the council needs to engage with those ideas.
Moon says she's disappointed at the lack of courage displayed by councilors willing to say black lives matter elsewhere.
She asks her colleagues if spending more money on law enforcement has yielded anything for the city- FBI crime reporting indicates no. She says even with reduced shifts during covid, she and her ward did not experience any eruption in crime.
Moon yields her time. Cohen is asking the Wynn to comment on reports of militarized culture within police departments. Wynn says there's no question that police became more paramilitary, but that the past 5-6 years have seen efforts to improve.
Wynn says law enforcement has seen intense mission creep.
He says the police are "doing the hard work" to change. Cops can go to a rally one day and need to respond to an active shooter the next. "It's overwhelming sometimes."
Cohen is asking about body cams- is the Pittsfield police department looking into using them? Wynn, reviving answers he gave me about the same topic when I asked him the same questions, says the state refuses to address key legal issues around body cams.
I spent a lot of time on this in 2019:…
We're closing in on hour 4 here. Caccamo wants to go back to ShotSpotter.
Wynn says the city has 3 year contracts with ShotSpotter. It is currently in its 2nd year of round 1.
Caccamo, who has the floor, appears to be asking the chief for permission to share data on ShotSpotter.
Caccamo says the tech has a 75% false positive rate- how can Wynn say it's improved?
Wynn says some of the data is questionable due to human error at the beginning. It seems like his endorsement of ShotSpotter continues to be about its potential.
Caccamo has talked a lot about sharing and reviewing data with the chief. He also says he has no plans to further reduce the department's budget.
Persip says as a black man he is insulted by Moon's comments. He grew up on the west side on John Street, and says he resents the suggestion that he doesn't take those issues seriously.
Lampiasi is also bristling at Moon's comments and says she takes offense. She says gutting one department is not going to fix the city's problems. Says there are bigger structural changes to make over time.
The budget, with the $100k in cuts and the reallocated $85k from the patrol line item to clinicians, is up for a vote. It passes 6-5. Connell, Maffuccio, Moon, Kavey, and Morandi opposed.
With that, on to the fire department! Forgive me if I begin to lose coherence, we just blew by hour 4. Fire is up 0.4% to just under $8.5 mil.
The new chief's salary is up 16.5% to $114,800.
With no amendments, the fire budget passes four and half hours into the meeting. Next- and last- up, the $26,400 emergency management budget!
This is also under fire chief tom Sammons' purview. It has been level funded from 2019 and 2020.
The emergency management budget passes. And so ends another night of municipal politics here in charming Pittsfield! I'll be up in not that many hours to attempt a wrap on this emotional and long conversation for noon tomorrow on @WAMCNews. Thank you so much for following along!
I'll add if you're learning about Pittsfield through these threads, my hometown somehow manages to be both exactly like Springfield and Twin Peaks in equal measure. It's a trip!
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