Hartford seeks input to establish public safety plan
HARTFORD, Vt. (WCAX) - The town of Hartford is looking for ideas from the community on what they’d like to see included in a community safety review. It comes as the town prepares to hire a consultant to take a closer look at public safety.
Cedar O’Dowd has lived in downtown White River Junction for about two years.
“I typically feel pretty safe... I think the only thing that has even been taken from me was my catalytic converter,” O’Dowd said.
It’s feedback like that Hartford is looking for. The town is working on putting out a request for proposal, or RFP, for a safety review to identify gaps in the community’s public safety system.
First responders will tell you the calls they get are becoming increasingly complex.
“Domestic disturbances that also involve an overdose or substance use disorder or a mental health situation,” Hartford Fire Chief Scott Cooney said.
And it’s not just the fire department noticing the change.
“Eighty to 85% of our calls are likely not law enforcement-related,” Hartford Police Chief Gregory Sheldon said.
The community safety review not only will identify where more resources are needed, especially for the most vulnerable, but also, identify local agencies that are already equipped with the skills to help.
“It’s a two-part process identifying the needs and the gaps in our community, then identifying the proper partner to respond to those and fill those gaps,” Sheldon explained.
“Is it transportation to a hospital? Is it involving law enforcement? Is it bring in social workers?” said Cooney.
O’Dowd, who is 25, calls it a more holistic approach to public safety.
“Maybe carries more into the root of systemic issues than just showing up and arresting somebody,” said O’Dowd.
The RFP will likely be finalized by the end of the month and then go out to bid. However, it’s the beginning of a long process that will likely include community surveys and public forums all focused on providing public safety to those who need it most. It’s on the agenda at Tuesday’s select board meeting.
Copyright 2023 WCAX. All rights reserved.