New Hope police addressing quality-of-life issues

The department is responding to complaints from residents and merchants alike about illegal motorcyles and the annoying loud noise that emanates from them.

By: Linda Seida
   NEW HOPE — Police calls in the borough were reduced last year by approximately 20 percent from 2002, according to Mayor Laurence Keller.
   At the same time, the number of tickets issued has risen.
   In 2003, police responded to about 2,200 calls.
   "I’m very pleased with all that’s going on in the department," Mayor Keller said. "One of the most important to me is the address of the quality-of-life issues."
   A quality-of-life issue of major importance to residents and merchants alike over the past year has been the intrusion of illegal motorcycles. The sound that emanates from the bikes, whose mufflers frequently have been altered to make them louder, has been a huge thorn in the borough’s side.
   Starting this spring, police will begin monitoring motorcycles with a decibel meter. Some residents and business have donated money for the purchase of the high-tech monitoring equipment. In addition, the Borough Council is expected to soon raise the fine for the illegal motorcycles from $50 to $150.
   According to the report released last week, parking enforcement increased last year. A total of 16,144 tickets were issued in 2003, compared to the 14,550 issued in 2002.
   "The department is proactive in issuing tickets, however, officers will always be fair and courteous," Chief Rick Pasqualini said in his 2003 report. "The efforts of all officers have maximized our efficiency regarding parking violations."
   Among the accomplishments achieved in 2003, the Police Department has implemented an annual report and stabilized officer coverage with two part-time officers moving to full-time status.
   Another part-time officer, Dawn Harrison, is expected to move to full-time status to replace Officer James Keen, who retired in December, Mayor Keller said. Officer Harrison was the top applicant out of a field of 14 who recently were tested, according to Mayor Keller.
   "She was definitely a shining star, and she had answers that none of the other applicants gave," Mayor Keller said. "Hopefully, in the next couple of months, council will hire Dawn Harrison as our new full-time police officer."
   The department also offered advanced training to its officers, according to the annual report for 2003. Mayor Keller released the report during a meeting of council held Feb. 10.
   Other accomplishments include joining the Middle Atlantic Great Lakes Organized Crime Law Enforcement Network, which will aid the department’s efforts in gathering information, and the initiation of a performance appraisal process for officers.
   Within the report, Chief Pasqualini commented on the issues facing his department in 2004.
   "The coming year presents many challenges," he wrote. "One will be to address the quality-of-life issues that the residential and business communities have asked be addressed effectively and efficiently."
   The Motor Carrier Task Force will continue this year, but under the direction of a different officer. Officer Richard Joyner has taken over as department liaison for the Bucks County Safety Task Force. Officer Keen previously held the position.
   "Once a week, the Task Force operates during different hours in alternating destinations," the chief wrote. "The Task Force has the authority to take a truck out of service and bring the driver before a district justice to address the violations and fines. This program has had a positive reaction from citizens and demonstrates another facet of the department’s community policing policy."