Pubdate: Sat, 26 Jan 2013
Source: Patriot Ledger, The  (Quincy, MA)
Copyright: 2013 GateHouse Media, Inc.
Author: Patrick Ronan, The Patriot Ledger


MARSHFIELD - A recent home invasion in which three men were tied up
and one was severely injured was the latest drug-related crime in
Marshfield, where the police chief says such crimes have been steadily

"Not only have our calls for service increased, but the severity of
the crimes has increased," Chief Phil Tavares said.

In the past 18 months, Marshfield has had a murder, five armed home
invasions, a stabbing and a string of robberies. Tavares said drugs
can't be blamed for all of those crimes, but he said a drug epidemic
is overextending his police force.

Police said the home invasion on Acorn Street last Tuesday was
connected to a marijuana-growing operation inside the house. Last
August, a gunshot was fired inside a Marshfield apartment complex in
an alleged drug deal gone bad.

Last January, several people were arrested and charged with breaking
into dozens of local homes. At the time, Tavares described the robbers
as "drug-dependent."

Although most local communities are feeling the ill effects of the
drug trade, Marshfield has been hit particularly hard. A Patriot
Ledger analysis of death certificates from 2009 and 2010 found that
Marshfield had the highest overdose rate of 10 towns south of Boston
that were studied.

Tavares speculated that Marshfield's rate may be a little higher than
those of other South Shore towns because Marshfield is more
economically diverse. But he urged the public not to stereotype
Marshfield based on statistics.

"It happens all over the region," Tavares said. "It's not just
happening in Marshfield."

State Sen. Robert Hedlund, R-Weymouth, whose district includes
Marshfield, said there is more work lawmakers can do to curb the
drug-related crimes and deaths.

Some of the measures he would consider supporting are tougher prison
sentences for drug dealers, better rehabilitation programs for addicts
and tighter restrictions on the manufacturing of prescription
painkillers such as OxyContin and Percocet.

"I think it's worse than most people realize," Hedlund

Tavares said the crime increase has resulted in high overtime costs.
He plans to ask town leaders this year for money to hire additional

With more than five months left in the fiscal year, Marshfield police
are on pace for $830,000 in overtime, or nearly four times the
department's overtime budget.

Marshfield Treasurer-Collector Nancy Holt agreed that overtime
deficits correlate with staff cuts. She said the police department's
full-time staff was reduced from 48 to 45 officers in 2009. Tavares
said he currently has 42 full-time officers.

But Holt said the police department has been getting the maximum
amount of money the town can afford.

"We build our budget based on the revenues we have coming in, and
unfortunately there hasn't been any new revenue," she said. "The state
aid has been relatively flat, the local receipts have actually
declined, and our investment income is nonexistent."
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