Comments by Medford City Councilor Michael Marks about city enforcement of traffic of violations drew the ire of a Medford Police officer, who engaged in a fiery exchange with Marks at Tuesday's council meeting.
Marks brought up a recent WBZ I-Team report that highlighted the cities and towns where Massachusetts residents may be most likely to get a moving violation.
Both in terms of total moving violations and violations per capita, Medford ranked dead last of over 30 municipalities surveyed by WBZ. While Brookline was tops 26,202 moving violations, Medford had just 631 during the same time period.
"I was quite appalled to find out...Medford was the very last community on the list," Marks said.
He quoted Brookline Police Chief Daniel O'Leary, who was interviewed in the WBZ report, as saying the heightened traffic enforcement acts as an overall crime deterrent for the city.
"It would act to calm down traffic and add to pedestrian safety and it would also act as a deterrent to potential crime," Marks said of Medford possibly following Brookline's path. "It's a win-win situation."
Marks also said the city is losing out on additional revenue by not providing more traffic enforcement.
"The directive has to come from the top," Marks said. "We have two people in our traffic enforcement division, a sergeant and an officer. Unless they are working seven days a week, 24 hours a day, we're not providing safe streets. It's impossible."
Marks wanted a response from Medford Police Chief Leo A. Sacco, Jr., on WBZ's report.
"I think he should be answering to this report," Marks said.
Medford Officer Harold MacGilvray approached the council following Marks' remarks to challenge his assertions. MacGilvray, speaking on behalf of the Medford Police Patrolman's Association, took issue with how Marks, and the council, were hammering the department.
"There is not another department in this city that absorbs the kinds of blows that the Medford Police Department absorbs from this council," MacGilvray said. "It is unbelievable. It's a common theme here that we aren't doing our jobs."
MacGilvray asked Marks if he knew how many patrol cars are on the streets of Brookline and Medford on normal day shifts. MacGilvray said Brookline utilizes 15 while Medford uses six.
"You said the streets aren't safe," MacGilvray said. "That's a shot at us."
"You better believe I believe they're not safe," Marks said, although when pressed by MacGilvray for specific statistics to back up that claim, Marks could not provide them.
"I'm tired of the constant shots at the Medford Police Department," MacGilvray said. "We do our job. We do a tremendous job with what little resources we have."
Marks said many times he was not intentionally taking shots at the department and apologized to MacGilvray if what he was saying was being perceived that way.
"I'm sorry your feelings were hurt," Marks said. "I'm not here to represent you or your union. I'm here to represent the people of this community. And if I feel there's a concern, I'm going to raise it, whether you like it or not."
Council President Robert Maiocco didn't want MacGilvray to believe the council doesn't think Medford Police aren't doing their job.
"Personally, I feel safe in my neighborhood," Maiocco said.
Councilor Breanna Lungo-Koehn said the council doesn't believe the department has enough manpower and it's up to Mayor Michael J. McGlynn to "step up" with a plan to change that.
"The Medford Police Department is always there to respond to needs of this community," said Councilor Paul Camuso. "Enforcement is always an issue, but the men and women, we can stand by them whether we have philosophical differences or not."