Police Advisory Commission conducting community survey

Fri, 05/13/2022 - 11:15am

The Police Advisory Commission is extending its Community Needs Survey for the next five weeks. Initially the survey was offered on the Block Island Bulletin Board, and notices were posted in various places around town, but the response was thin. To garner more responses, a link to the survey will be added to the home page of the town’s
At its meeting on May 5, members were provided a listing of comments left by survey respondents, but without the time to review them, they chose to hold off on a discussion.
Respondents were interested in seeing improvements in a few key areas. One of those was enforcement of speed limits and traffic safety rules for both vehicles and bicycles, particularly those that fly through the four-way intersection, Bridgegate Square, ignoring the stop signs.
Another area that drew a few respondents’ concern could come under the umbrella of “preserving public health.” More than one respondent was concerned about drug and alcohol use, or abuse, and over serving, domestic violence, and the police department’s interactions with “the mentally ill.” The respondents suggested police officers receive more training on these issues, and one wrote: “There’s funding through SAMHSA to build out a peer coaching program on Block Island. Coaches can work with the medical center, the PD, rescue and fire to work with folks in crisis, to help arrange treatment and get folks ‘to’ treatment, to distribute narcan, to help connect folks to therapy and other coping skills,…” SAMSHA is a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that deals with substance abuse and mental health. There were also a couple of comments about noise, one about weddings, and one about barking dogs.
One problem not brought up by the survey, but by commission member Molly O’Neill was parking. In what could be dubbed “the parking lot wars,” there are plenty of violations of restricted and reserved parking in the lots of private businesses. Additionally, there is an increasing tendency for people to park on road shoulders anywhere where parking is not specifically prohibited by signs.
Police Chief Matt Moynihan said that there were a few businesses hiring their own security guards to enforce parking, specifically the Block Island Grocery.
To deal with violations, O’Neill asked: “What is the process? We don’t have a tow lot?”
“That would be the process, but we don’t have [a tow lot],” said Moynihan. He also emphasized that the police department’s authority to ticket does not extend to business’s
parking lots. “They have to handle it.”
When asked about placing stickers on a parking violator’s car windshield, Moynihan said that would be “damaging” cars, and therefore illegal in and of itself as an act of vandalism.
Commission Chair Jim Hinthorn said that illegal parking was a problem on the private road he lived on. “The best they could do was a flyer.”
Not being able to do so themselves, because they are a town board, the Police Advisory Commission has enlisted the help of others to hold an event called “Breakfast with the Chief.” With support from the Block Island Residents Association and Kimberly’s Restaurant, the event will be held at the Block Island Maritime Institute on May 21 from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. It’s a chance to meet the chief and hear his plans for the summer of 2022. Tickets, which are available at the Block Island Chamber of Commerce, Island Bound Bookstore, The Cracked Mug, and Island Free Library, are$10 for adults. Children under 12 are free. Any excess profits will go to the Block Island Rescue Squad.