Letter: Police Chief — Department Needs More Officers

The Reading Post accepts Letters to the Editor. All letters must be signed. The Reading Post reserves the right to edit or not publish any letters received. Letters do not represent the views or opinions of the Post. editor@thereadingpost.com

Dear Editor,

Over the Summer of 2017, I requested an evaluation of the department to determine how Reading’s staffing compares to other similar communities. I conducted an evaluation of twenty-two comparable towns in Massachusetts. Several areas of interest were queried and the relevant data was compiled. The areas of focus were: population, sworn officers, civilian employees, school resource officers, detectives, task force officers, dispatchers, calls for service, population density, housing unit density, command staff levels and police department budgets.

The goal of this study was to compare Reading to other similar communities and determine whether Reading has an adequate number of police officers. Also, if the study showed that Reading does not have an adequate number of officers, it would aim to further illustrate where the Reading Police Department should improve its staffing so that the department can run an optimum level. This may include hiring more patrol officers but no limited to detectives, specialists, supervisors, command staff members, civilians or public safety dispatchers.

The last time a formal evaluation of the Reading Police Department’s staffing levels was conducted was in 1998, by EMS Consultants out of Belmont, NH. During that review, EMS Consultants concluded that the current condition of the town, in 1998, required a police department of 43 – 44 sworn officers. It is important to note that not only was this study conducted almost twenty years ago, but also at that time Reading had a population of 23,708 (2000). In addition to a growing population, there have been major infrastructure developments that have increased the commercial property, specifically the Walkers Brook Drive area with Jordan’s Furniture, Home Depot, several restaurants and retail stores. There are also several licensed bars and nightclubs on Walkers Brook Drive and around the downtown Reading area which raise the level of calls for service. There is also a need to have adequate staffing on patrol in case of serious incidents.

Based on the results of this study, including the comprehensive analysis of the Town of Reading, I respectfully request the addition of 5 sworn police officers, bringing the total number of officers to 46. This conclusion is based on the town’s current population (26,656), budget, population and housing unit density per square mile. It also took into consideration the status of the police department, primarily its specific current staffing levels and how that compares to the 22 comparable communities included in this study. With these 5 new officers, I would aim to provide additional patrol officers on each of the 3 night shifts; fill the currently vacant patrol officer position on the day shift and add a second School Resource Officer position. I believe that with the addition of these new police officer positions, the department will be set up to provide the optimal level of service and public safety to the citizens of the Town of Reading.


Mark D. Segalla
Chief of Police

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