A year later, Salem’s police chief talks law enforcement and a new mission | New

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SALEM – It’s only been around for a year, but that was enough for Lucas Miller to call Salem “the best job I’ve ever had.”

Miller, named last May and sworn in last June as Salem’s new police chief, recently met with business owners at a Salem Chamber of Commerce event. He used the hour to discuss the latest police work, upcoming upgrades to departments, efforts to increase staffing, and more.

Miller used the event to outline the department’s new mission statement, which, concisely, is “to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution of the United States.”

“That’s it, and if you think about it, it encompasses a lot,” Miller said. “The previous mission was definitely worth it, but it was also a paragraph and a half long. I tried to memorize it for my interviews with the Salem police chief, and I couldn’t, no matter how hard I tried.

Miller also spent a good chunk of his time singing the praises of Witch City.

“In New York, I really had a wonderful time, because I had so many different assignments,” he said. “I really wanted to go back to Massachusetts and I wanted to have my own police department, and I consider myself so lucky – not just because of Salem’s support, but how great the police department is. It’s not perfect, no police department is; but it’s a very, very good department.

The event came as the department ramps up its use of body-worn cameras, launched as a pilot program before Miller arrived. That included another delivery of out-of-stock devices that arrived last week to bring the department to its fully equipped total, according to Miller.

“We now have the 80 cameras, which is enough to equip every street officer with a full-time camera,” he said. “Some officers, detectives, that (using the camera) will be an option. We don’t want to slow down people’s willingness to talk to us by showing up with a camera in their face…but where we’re talking about enforcement , it will be necessary.

Miller further explained that having each officer carry a camera does not diminish the power of the public to report a crime as it occurs.

“You’re probably tired of hearing the phrase ‘see something, say something,'” he said. “But there’s a philosophy behind it all, and it’s a relatively simple philosophy which is just that: who will recognize when something is wrong?”

Miller then alluded to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and how the two brothers who carried out the bombings fit in so easily with the marathon crowd.

“You’ve probably all seen the photos of the Tsarnaev brothers en route to the Boston Marathon,” Miller said. “I wouldn’t have stopped them – baseball cap turned inside out, backpack. They could have been on their way to Boston College. At one point they put these backpacks down, and at one point I bet one of them looked really weird looking around to make sure an officer wasn’t looking.

“If something’s wrong, you’re the best judges of whether it’s wrong,” Miller continued. “Then call us.”

Much of this week’s event also focused on homelessness in Salem and the police department’s work with the homeless community and the resources that serve them. This included a spotlight on the department’s Community Impact Unit and its newly appointed leader, Sgt. SeanAndrus.

Today, the CIU includes a handful of full-time patrollers, two mental health clinicians and Derby, a comfy and fluffy pup who has been doing the rounds since being interviewed and adopted earlier this year. From there, CIU is not so much a team that polices homelessness as a team that serves and helps these people.

“The homeless are a community that deserves our services like anyone else,” Miller said, “but it’s also a community that sometimes causes trouble and needs to be dealt with gently, constitutionally and effectively. “

Andrus pointed out that many calls the police receive about the homeless community – begging or sleeping on a bench – are not in fact examples of illegal activity.

After all, the United States Supreme Court recently ruled that begging is a constitutionally protected freedom of speech, he explained.

“Begging is obviously a problem, very concerning for a lot of people,” Andrus said. “We must respect everyone’s constitutional rights, while staying on top of quality of life issues as best we can for the people of Salem.”

Contact Dustin Luca at 978-338-2523 or [email protected] Follow him on facebook.com/dustinluca or on Twitter @DustinLucaSN.

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