Congratulations Chief Solomon!
By Lisa Kashinsky, Eagle-Tribune
METHUEN — Over the past few years, police Chief Joseph Solomon has steered his department through the ongoing opioid crisis and brought technology to the forefront for his officers.
Now, with a new contract in hand, he’s set to continue leading the department for the next five years.
The City Council approved a five-year contract for Solomon on Tuesday night in which he’ll see a 9.7 percent pay increase but also take on the role of emergency management director and oversee harbormaster duties.
“I’m excited to continue providing services to the city. The last six years have been very fulfilling and I look forward to the next five,” Solomon said.
In the new contract, Solomon’s base salary will increase to $151,797, up from $138,353. With other payments, including a college incentive, holiday and longevity pay, his total salary will be about $235,665, according to the city.
The chief’s salary is set under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 48, Section 57G, to be calculated at the ratio of 2.5 times the highest-paid permanent, full-time police officer. As of July 1, the salary will be calculated at a ratio of 2.6 times that amount, according to the contract.
Solomon’s contract goes into effect March 1 and is set to last through Feb. 28, 2022, and can be extended.
Mayor Stephen Zanni offered nothing but praise for the police chief, noting that he made the decision to offer the chief a five-year contract, as opposed to the typical three-year contract, based on a positive performance evaluation.
“When I looked at the department, what issues have arisen over there and how he’s maintained that police department over time, and from what I’ve heard in the community, I felt it warranted a five-year contract,” Zanni said.
He added, “If he wasn’t doing a good job, I wouldn’t have done that.”
The mayor noted several areas in which Solomon has performed well over the past few years, including making improvements at the police station, disciplining officers when necessary, bringing in new officers and focusing on technology.
“He’s done a real good job with technology,” Zanni said.
After a successful pilot program in 2015, Solomon brought body cameras to his department and so far has been able to outfit 61 officers with the technology. The body camera contract also includes new Tasers.
More recently, Solomon introduced a GPS tracker technology called StarChase, where officers can tag a fleeing car with a GPS tracker and monitor the vehicle from a distance. The tracker is attached to a dart that can be launched from a police cruiser and tracked through a web-based mapping portal, allowing officers to more safely follow a car without having to give chase at high speeds.
Solomon said technology will remain one of his priorities over the next few years.
The department is now looking into several forms of “anti-ambush” technology, including automated gunshot detection, motion-sensor cameras for cruisers that can alert officers when someone is approaching their vehicle, and technology that will allow officers to dictate their reports “while keeping their eyes up at all times,” Solomon said.
“Our goal is to develop a ‘smart cruiser,’ which would include the automatic deployment of the GPS trackers, the motion sensors,” the chief said, adding that he hoped to outfit Methuen’s cruisers so they are “the model cruiser for at least the commonwealth, if not the country.”
Beyond technology, Solomon wants to further step up his efforts to combat the opioid crisis. Part of that is continuing to expand the Community Addiction Resource Engagement Services, or CARES, initiative, through which two specialists work to provide resources for individuals in active addiction and their family members as well as run education and outreach programs.
While he received the money last year to make the two specialists full-time employees, Solomon said more is still needed. He wants to potentially partner with agencies to have clinical social workers on call for the department on nights and weekends, paid on an hourly rate, to help with the calls that come in at all hours of the day and night.
Solomon also serves on the national Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative Police Council, or PAARI.
The chief said he doesn’t believe “opioids will be under control” by the time his contract expires.
Read more at: http://www.eagletribune.com/news/merrimack_valley/methuen-police-chief-gets-five-year-contract/article_68e80804-86e5-572d-b8c3-4d51d97df19a.html
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