Three recent murders likely could not have been prevented by increased police presence, Police Chief Leo Sacco said.
"That is an anomaly," Sacco said of having three killings in Medford in seven months.
But that doesn't mean the police department doesn't need help. With 98 officers on the payroll, the department's manpower is at an all-time low, Sacco said during a meeting with the City Council Monday night.
Sacco was called in for a committee of the whole meeting to discuss recent crime activity in the city. Along with the three recent killings, Medford police have received reports of breaking and entering on 40 occasions so far in 2011, Sacco said.
The special meeting was requested by Council Vice President Frederick Dello Russo.
"(This) kind of stuff has people concerned," Dello Russo said. "No one wants it in any community. We certainly don’t want it here."
The most recent major crime took place on Jerome Street on February 19, where John Viera and his son, John Hatch were both shot. Hatch died from his wounds, but Viera is expected to live. No arrests have been made in connection to the case.
On January 31, Troy Burston was found lying bloody and shirtless on a snowbank outside his Exchange Avenue residence. Shortly after, his wife, Shawntina Burston, was arrested and charged with first degree murder. She remains in jail pending a probable cause hearing later this month.
On August 28, Brian Fahy was found beaten to death at 382 Salem Street. Christopher Toppi, a resident of the apartment has been indicted on a murder charge, and his roommate, Roger Beattie, has been charged with perjury for allegedly lying to a Grand Jury about the incident.
Sacco explained staff shortages, and the challenges the police department faces on Tuesday.
The department peaked with 132 officers in 2001, with many coming through federal grants initiated by the Clinton administration, Sacco said. Since then, it has seen manpower steadily dwindle, as retiring patrolmen, sergeants, lieutenants and Captains go unreplaced.
Ideally, the department would be staffed with 120 officers, Sacco said.
And the city doesn't have the available funds to hire back positions anytime soon, Sacco said.
"There’s no hiring in site, at least at this point," he said.
That means it's up to citizens to keep an eye out for unusual behavior and notify authorities, Sacco said.
In many breaking and entering cases, thieves walk out of homes with big screen TVs and computers in the middle of the day.
"They are walking down the street in broad daylight and nobody says anything," Sacco said.
The city faces a challenge in finding funding for more positions, as department heads across Medford are being asked to make cuts.
City Councilor Paul Camuso challenged Mayor Michael McGlynn to find money to restore some police positions.
"The mayor really has to step up to the plate and find some funding somewhere," Camuso said.
City Councilor Robert Penta said Traffic and Parking enforcement could be implemented -- and should have been implemented previously -- to help fund police positions.