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Harrison Police Hires New Officers But Is it Enough

Apr 19, 2022
Harrison Police Watchful Eye

In the “good old days”, the Town of Harrison was known for its very well-staffed Police Department.  Harrison’s reputation was that the Town was very safe.  While other neighboring towns had high crime statistics, Harrison’s crime statistics were low. 

The Town had at one time over 70 police officers for a one-mile square area, almost half of which was an industrial area.  If you called the Harrison Police Department for any incident, three police cars showed up from all directions it seemed like instantaneously. We are not exaggerating. The criminals knew that Harrison was not an easy place to do business.  You might not ever make it out of Harrison with your stolen goods because the Harrison Police officers were numerous and vigilant in their patrols and responded if called within minutes and with multiple officers at the same time.

Harrison was at the forefront of police technology with a two-way radio system being utilized for dispatch back in the late 1930s.  Of course, two-way radio systems were made by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) whose headquarter was in Harrison.  What better way to test your two-way radio system than to put it into the local police department's police cruisers.  Today, Harrison Police officers have access to information via computer consoles in their police vehicles and of course two-way radios.  The radios, unfortunately, are not made in Harrison anymore.

 Mayor James Fife and Councilman and Co-Chair of the Police Committee Larry Bennett announced the hiring of four additional police officers who will start within a week doing in-house training as Harrison Police officers.  An additional three officer recruits will have to undergo a 26-week Police Academy, that is 6.5 months of training, to then join the Harrison Police Department. 

Mayor Fife recognized four years ago during the 2018 Mayor’s race that Public Safety was one of the top issues in the Town of Harrison.  Public Safety was up there with Lack of Parking, Lack of Green Spaces & Parks, High Property Taxes & Rents, as top issues.  It is four years later and some progress has been made in increasing police staffing but is it enough.

Although the additional officers will help fill what is currently a 51 officer table of organization, the current number of Police officers pales in comparison to prior Police Department officers in Harrison when the population was far less and the patrol area smaller because almost half of the Town was industrial. 

The Harrison Police Department reduced the number of Police officers it had in 2008 from 56 to the point that it had 37 in 2011.  The increase to the current 51 officer table of organization is a good step but it might not be enough if Mayor Fife in his capacity as the Chairman of the Harrison Redevelopment Agency continues to have developers building more apartments in SOHA.  Maybe a whole city block with a nice Park and incorporating a Police Station with holding cells and a Community Policing Unit would be a smarter way to go.  Green Space was built into the Redevelopment Plan but numerous amendments to the plan under Mayor Fife’s watch as Chairman of the Redevelopment Board erased Green Spaces in favor of more Apartment Buildings.  Maybe Developers who are benefiting from Harrison’s increased population could get together and fund a park that would benefit all of the developer’s tenants.  A Park would help residents enjoy the outdoors in their neighborhood.

The fastest-growing town in terms of the population needs Green Spaces for sure.  It does appear that Mayor Fife is trying to place Green Space in a Riverwalk Park but it is an obvious afterthought because it is one of the top issues identified four years ago during the 2018 Mayor’s Election. The cost because it is on the riverfront walk area is higher than it would have been if it was located in an interior block.

What do you think?  What is your opinion?

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