By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Tuesday, July 11, 2006
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON -- The Hampton Beach Village District Commission wants to see more of a police presence at Hampton Beach especially during on weekends and special events like the Fourth of July fireworks.
Hampton Beach Precinct Commissioner Gary Kubik said the Police Department did an outstanding job on July 4, but next year he wants to see more officers on the street and on traffic control.
Kubic said the precinct plans to discuss the matter at its meeting Wednesday night.
Some suggestions already discussed include using precinct money to hire police details or seeing if the National Guard could help out on events such as the July 4 fireworks.
"We just want to start a discussion and see what we can do as a community," Kubik said. "I don't know what we can do, but I think we need to talk about it. If we can spend $12 million on a sewer infrastructure project at Hampton Beach, then we can come up with a plan to help traffic and to have more of a police presence."
Kubik said since the Police Department was forced to cut back on the number of summer police officers because of the default budget, he's noticed it has had an impact, especially during the July 4 holiday.
Prior to the default budgets, the Police Department used to fill 220 part-time shifts a week during the summer. Now it covers 157 shifts per week.
Hampton Police Chief Jamie Sullivan said his department had every available officer working on July 4.
"We didn't have the amount of officers on that we had in previous budgets, but our officers worked hard and I feel confident that we supplied excellent service during that period of time, Sullivan said. "But clearly our resources were limited and had some impact."
The Hampton Police Department made 70 arrests on July 4 and broke up several fights. One arrest of note involved a fight that broke out on Ocean Boulevard at 9:30 p.m., when the fireworks show began.
Police were called to the scene after they received a report that five men smashed a window of a vehicle that was being driven on Church Street and then began physically assaulting the driver.
"Hampton Beach is a family resort," Kubik said. "We want families to feel safe coming here."
Several hotel owners have expressed concern that a lot of families didn't want to watch the fireworks because of the crowd of people.
John Ozberak, owner of the Tides Resort, said a few of his guests were actually afraid to leave their rooms especially after seeing gangs of kids walking down the street.
"I think the police were shorthanded," Ozberak said. "With the amount of officers they had I think they did a great job."
Kubik said another big issue he sees is traffic control especially during the July 4th holiday and on weekends.
"This is not a new issue," Kubik said. "But I think it's something we need to address, especially with the beach getting busier."
Kubik said traffic was horrendous on the Fourth of July and he would like to see an officer directing traffic on B, D, G, I and K streets.
The precinct plans to invite Chief Sullivan and Town Manager James Barrington to one of its future meetings.