Public safety was at the forefront of last week’s Pittsfield trustees meeting, as the board declared a gun violence awareness day and received an annual report from the township’s public safety director.
Supervisor Mandy Grewal read and approved the proclamation declaring June 7 National Gun Violence Awareness Day in Pittsfield. According to the proclamation, the national day is declared in honor of remembering victims and survivors of gun violence. The proclamation reading was joined by several local volunteers and members of the Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America group. Grewal and township clerk Michelle Anzaldi wore matching orange Moms Demand Action shirts in support of the group and proclamation.
The Department of Public Safety’s annual report for 2018 followed the proclamation, presented by director Matthew Harshberger. According to Harshberger’s report, a drop from three homicides/non-negligent manslaughter cases in 2017 to one case in 2018 was the largest sizable change regarding major crimes that occurred between both years.
Last year saw a decrease in criminal sexual conduct (39 to 33), robbery (14 to 9), assault (287 to 231), larceny (356 to 284) and damage to property (98 to 82). Increases were reported for burglaries/home invasions (46 to 56), motor vehicle theft (38 to 40), narcotics violations (407 to 491) and weapon offenses (17 to 22). Harshberger said he expects the number of narcotics violations to change throughout 2019, citing last fall’s passing of a statewide proposal that legalized the recreational use of marijuana.
Arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol increased from 64 in 2017 to 77 in 2018, while arrests for driving under the influence of drugs decreased from 17 in 2017 to 14 in 2018. Major calls to the fire department for vehicle crashes saw a spike from 530 in 2017 to 611 in 2018 largely due to harsh winter conditions, said fire chief Sean Gleason.
The Pittsfield Metro Dispatch received 14,800 dispatch calls in 2018, with an average fire department response time (from dispatched to “on scene”) of 6 minutes and 34 seconds. The average response time for a medical call was a similar 6 minutes and 32 seconds.