Dedham Chief of Police Michael D’Entremont spoke with Dedham Patch editor David Ertischek about what he likes about the job, the most common call Dedham Police receive, and how the department utilizes technology.
Patch: What do you like best about being the Chief of Police for Dedham?
D'Entremont: We have a very good department. We have a lot of very good officers here. A few issues. We have an engaged community with a lot of people we can reach out to for assistance who are organized working within their neighborhoods. So we have a lot of involved people.
Patch: Where’d you grow up?
D'Entremont: Right here in Dedham. Right over in Riverdale.
Patch: How has being an officer of the law changed since when you started?
D'Entremont: Probably not all that much. My father was a police officer so I had a view of it from being around someone who was a police officer the whole time. You see a lot, most of it is on the positive side. You see some tough situations and what people have to deal with in life and anything we do can do to help I don’t think it’s changed too much.
Patch: What about technology?
D'Entremont: Oh, good stuff. Good stuff. Obviously, that’s moving so fast. As far as policing goes, when you have crimes now there’s surveillance and video cameras in a lot of places, which are very valuable in helping us solve crimes. Fingerprint systems are automated now. When I first started the prisoner would be rolling fingers in ink on paper. You’d have to go with the (fingerprint) card into Boston for them to examine. Now it’s all electronic and it speeds thing up. Forensic analysis now, it takes time, it’s not like CSI where it’s done in 30 minutes. It helps to solve a lot of crimes with DNA evidence when obtained. License plates – states are now linked together. Licenses are impacted by things in other states. You can get information and operators and pictures so if someone had as a fake ID... there are lots and lots of technology advancements. It’s an ongoing game. It just keeps getting better. It proves a means for us to do our job better, and in a more efficient factor.
Patch: How did the East Dedham meeting go? What should residents be aware when it comes to crime in that area?
D'Entremont: It went good. A real good crowd. We had 40 to 50 people. There were representatives from the Boston Police Department, a property manager from the Georgetown Housing (in Hyde Park) that borders up to Dedham, a property manager for Longwood… We went over year to date crime and and what we’ve seen on the east side of town. People need to protect themselves and make themselves less vulnerable and communicate to us when something they see is unusual. It's no different than any other area and that applies to everyone.
We had another meeting on Monday. It’s the same exact thing (as residents) had concerns in the area of the Endicott House, but it was the same theme. It all comes down to neighborhood communication and working together to make the neighborhood safer and communicate with us. We can’t be on every street all the time. So we need members of the community to be our eyes and ears. When they call us they don’t need to identify themselves. Provide as much information as possible and we’ll respond.
Patch: What is the most common crime in Dedham?
D'Entremont: Looking at it last year - ambulance calls are our number one call for service. The fire department responds to all of those. We respond if situations dictate it, like a serious injury, or a heart attack.
(Another common call is for alarms) Most are false alarms. That’s a matter of educating people on how to use alarm systems. Making sure you have a current alarm system. Connections get old and alarms are going off. You get three false alarms per year. Then after that there’s a fee for a response for a false alarm, which is a town bylaw.
Also, 'extra checks' – checks in town to parks. That’s not a call for service, but it's a program we do to keep an eye on sectors that could attract issues. Lots of parks, where kids hang out.
Then car accidents - about 900 per year.
Patch: Are there crimes that are on the rise or you’ve seen more in recent times than in the past?
D'Entremont: Things fluctuate year in and year out... Breaks into vehicles from 2011 to 2012 there was a 27% increase. On the flip side shoplifting dropped 36%. We have a lot of commercial stores.
Patch: What’s the craziest incident you’ve seen in Dedham?
D'Entremont: Every day is potentially crazy… you get a lot of strange things. Human behavior – at some of our recent police academies – they say welcome to the greatest show on the earth...
Shoplifters go through lines purchasing things and then have small items they’re stealing.
Patch: How can people protect themselves against crime in Dedham?
D'Entremont: We have a whole sheet on our website on house break-in prevention tips, holiday tips, a lot of crime prevention is common sense. You still have people leaving cars or houses unlocked, and pocketbooks or iPads on the seat. You have to be careful and protect yourself. It's just a matter of not thinking it’s not going to happen to you. Be cautious and take necessary measures.