School security has remained in the spotlight nationally following the May 25 shooting in the Uvalde (Texas) school district in which 19 students and two teachers were killed.
At Monday night’s Council Legislative Affairs hearing on the Revere budget, City Council President Gerry Visconti brought up the issue of school resource officers (SROs) in the Revere school district.
“What is your thought process of increasing that number with all the things that have been going on – do you think there’s a need for the city to really increase that SRO number by one or two officers in our school department?” Visconti asked Callahan followed the police chief’s impressive presentation for the Fiscal ’23 budget.
“On your SRO question – absolutely,” replied Callahan. “I would like to enhance that and put a couple more officers in the school department to serve with the schools. “As soon as we start to build the manpower up, that’s one of the first things we’re going to visit.”
Callahan said with the current school ending soon, it will give him time to develop a plan for the new school year that begins in August. There have been increased police patrols around the schools for the past few weeks.
“To assist the schools and put people’s fears in check a little bit, we’ve had a lot of the day-shift patrol units at all the schools to give people a little bit of comfort,” added Callahan. “So, we’ve been trying to keep a pro-active approach there. But I would definitely be interested, as well as the superintendent of schools (Dr. Dianne Kelly), in hiring some more school resource officers.”
Reopening Police Substations
Councillor Dan Rizzo, chair of the Legislative Affairs Subcommittee, and Ward 2 Councillor Ira Novoselsky inquired about the closure of Revere Police substations on Pleasant Street and Shirley Avenue. Rizzo originally brought up the issue at the June 6 Council meeting.
“We’re going to start opening up those substations,” said Callahan. “We have a plan to try to get those up and running. I’m happy that you brought that up.”
The effectiveness of the RPD drug unit
Rizzo also asked Chief Callahan about the effectiveness of the Revere Police drug unit. “I happen to think that there’s a significant drug problem out there and I just want to know what we’re doing as a community with the respect to our drug unit. Is it effective?
“They have been involved in doing many different investigations,” said Callahan. “They’ll either do their own investigations or they’ll work on investigations collaboratively with the DEA, the State Police out of the District Attorney’s Office, and the State Police assigned to the Attorney General’s Office.
“A little while back they had a significant arrest where they got several hundred grams of fentanyl,” said Callahan. “We’re flooded with it, like every other community, and it’s awful. But they’re out there working with the Criminal Investigations Division and they’re pushing forward every day.”
Rizzo Praises RPD Officers
During his presentation, Callahan illuminated on several of the department’s accomplishments, including Revere’s highly successful Police Activities League (PAL) that provides recreational opportunities for Revere youths. Callahan also said he hopes to increase positive interactions between police officers and youths through specifically designed programs in the coming fiscal year. A new program in which residents can contact the police department through an anonymous tip line is also proving to be successful. Callahan said there are currently 102 active police officers in the department. He said he would like to hire 15-20 new officers since some current officers are contemplating retirement from the department in 2023. Callahan also revealed that the Revere Police Auxiliary is no longer an active part of the department due to the new police reform law. Rizzo, who said he called for walking patrols during his mayoral administration, praised the daily work of the Revere Police officers in his closing remarks. “Tell the men and women they’re doing a great job – we’re proud of the work they do, and you all do, to protect the residents of the city,” Rizzo said.