MANCHESTER, N.H. – On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan and Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig joined with members of the Manchester Police Department, Manchester Health Department and Amoskeag Health in a round table to discuss the impact of American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds coming to Manchester on COVID-19 and policing initiatives.
For Manchester Police Department Chief Allen Aldenberg, one of the key benefits of the funding coming from the plan for the city’s ARP funds approved by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen recently will be increased overtime funding that will allow increased flexibility for the department’s anti-crime unit as well as relief for the department’s detectives.
Additionally, the department is also seeking to increase more community-based proactive policing with initiatives such as increased foot patrols at areas where a significant number of police calls originate, specifically the areas around the intersections of Lowell and Elm, Union and Auburn, Amherst and Lincoln and Pearl and Union Streets.
Aldenberg also noted that during this proactive approach is something the department was unable to maintain during the first few weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure officer safety. Once enough personal protective equipment was obtained, the department returned to proactive policing efforts but found that violent crime had risen in the short term due to the absence of those efforts.
Manchester Health Department Chief Strategy Officer Jamie Hoebeke said that the Manchester Health Department has also aimed to engage in proactive efforts to prevent an increased spread of COVID-19, but must also balance that with reactive efforts to assist Manchester residents with health concerns following another recent rise in COVID-19 infection rates in the city.
Craig noted 13 new proposed community health workers that will be hired through the ARP funds that hopefully will help the Health Department increase its outreach in under served communities as well as alleviate pressures on police involvement in calls that require emergency mental health assistance.
The health workers, one for each ward as well as one specifically for senior citizens, will join five comparable workers currently in the field and two more embedded in Manchester’s public schools acting as trusted navigators for city residents who may not be aware of support that is offered by the Health Department.
These new workers will not require any certification or licensure prior to employment, but will receive health-related training upon hiring. However, they will be expected to have a significant knowledge of the neighborhoods they will serve, including an emphasis on knowledge of foreign languages that may be commonly spoken in those neighborhoods.
Manchester Police Department Assistant Chief Steven Mangones noted that Craig has put an emphasis on cooperation between members of the city’s departments, also noting efforts between police and Highway Department workers as well, something that Craig believes has occurred during her term.
“I think it’s very evident that our departments work well together and compliment each other,” said Craig.
The round table also held discussion on how the funding will help Amoskeag Health’s ACERT program as well as questions from Hassan regarding the opioid epidemic impact in the city.
Aldenberg told Hassan that opioids such as fentanyl still exists, often cut with other substances, but the significant drug threat faced recently by the department is methamphetamines and substances that are mixed with methamphetamines. He added that the department has worked to coordinate with other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to track known drug distribution networks.
Hassan thanked the panel for the discussion and its efforts to support Manchester and by extension, New Hampshire given the city’s impact on communities throughout the Granite State.
“When Manchester moves forward, it helps the whole state and its residents,” said Hassan.