For more on the election, read here.
Below is their take on public safety in Havre de Grace, with incumbents listed first and challengers listed second, in alphabetical order:
Cullum is proud of the way Havre de Grace has set up funding for its volunteer agencies.
“In 1997, I was able to get a resolution in and supported by the rest of the council that guaranteed the Susquehanna Hose Company and the Ambulance Corps level funding every year based upon the assessable tax base, knowing that as the city grew, there would be more service, more calls, more need for equipment,” Cullum said.
He added, “The City of Havre de Grace provides more funding to fire and ambulance than any municipality in Harford or Cecil counties.”
Cullum, who remains active with the Hose Company, pledged to continue supporting those organizations.
“I don’t know what else we can do but to continue that support,” he said.
Martin serves on the city’s public safety committee and is proud of the city’s public safety agencies.
“Overall, crime has been heading down the last four years. The police department does a fantastic job. The Hose Company, with an ISO rating of 2, people come up to me an tell me how they save money because of that,” he said.
Martin said quality of life, to him, doesn’t mean air conditioning.
“Quality of life is like that one desperate time you need help right away. In our city, you will get it within minutes,” he said.
“I support public safety because Havre de Grace has it right,” Martin added. “It’s a badge of honor the way our citizens serve us, and the police department is, without a doubt, the officers understand what it means to serve in Havre de Grace. The police department in Havre de Grace embodies that can-do attitude that everyone else has.”
Miller is quick to point to the facts when giving praise to the local agencies that protect the city.
“We have probably the best police force, the best fire department and the best ambulance company in the state,” he said. “The Susquehanna Hose Company prides themselves on being the fastest volunteers in the nation. The fire losses in Havre de Grace is very low. The fire company runs a lot of calls, but because they’re so quick, there’s very little damage caused by fire itself.”
He said finding volunteers is an issue everywhere, and noted that the county is looking into a potential commissioner to oversee the volunteer agencies.
“Some areas in the county, they have problems that need to be addressed. But in Havre de Grace, we’re in pretty good shape,” Miller said.
“The police department here is very well staffed. I’ve always supported the chief on whatever items they need,” Miller said, noting that he was working with Chief Teresa Walter to possibly add additional new police cruisers to the fleet alongside those she requested for the upcoming budget.
“Havre de Grace is a very safe town,” he said. “We have minor crime problems like every other place you go to. You just have to keep your eyes open and don’t go to places that don’t look safe.”
Glenn, whose father remains active with the Susquehanna Hose Company, recalls a time living in town when he was walking out the door while his fire scanner went off. Glenn decided to forgo his plans and drive to the scene.
“By the time I got down there, those guys were on the roof, cutting a hole in the roof to save that building,” he said. “People take for granted the response times in this community. In addition, because of the certification they’ve got, everyone can contact their homeowners association and get reduced rates. I’m big on the fire department and the ambulance corps.”
As for the police, Glenn is a proponent of putting feet on the street and improving street safety for residents.
“Our crime rate is down,” he said. “Yeah, we have some issues, but everybody has those issues.”
Sawyer feels that Havre de Grace’s crime issues may be out of the circumstance of the city’s proximity to other communities.
“You’ve got Aberdeen, which is kind of seedy. You’ve got Edgewood, which has a lot of crime problems,” he said. “The other side of the river, they seem to be significantly quieter, although I’m not sure.”
Sawyer wasn’t clear on the city’s overall crime data, but was aware of some recent trends in Bulle Rock.
“I am not that familiar with the crime statistics. I know there have been a few incidents in Bulle Rock, but mostly with kids vandalizing,” he said. “I know that a lot of rural communities have drug problems now. I’m not sure how bad that issue is here. It does seem like there’s probably a culture in Havre de Grace. It seems like you have a few people that might be.”
He is comfortable, though, with the number of officers the city has in place.
“It seems to me there’s a sufficient number of them to handle the task right now,” Sawyer said.
Scharbrough said public safety is of the utmost importance to any community.
“It’s a service that has to be maintained,” he said. “Since I’ve been here, my wife and I feel very safe to move about the city. I always see a police officer in my travel throughout the week. That’s something that must continue at the level it is—not necessarily increase. But the police chief and her officers need to continue that crime reduction.”
He said safety concerns must be considered in order to also provide a successful business environment—most notably in pushing for businesses to extend their store hours.
“We have that first before we can look forward,” Scharbrough said. “That and the cleanliness are paramount.”
Smith feels the city is at—if not beyond—the national average of police officers per capita.
“The national average I believe is 2.3 officers per thousand per capita. Depending on the number you use, I think it works out to 33 officers, and we have 37,” he said. “We’ve got a full compliment of police officers. It seems to be doing the trick.”
He said he likes seeing officers on the streets, too.
“This is a Mayberry kind of town, make it seem that way,” he said.
Smith said the Susquehanna Hose Company does its part to provide a safe feeling in the city.
“The fire department is volunteer and they do a great job and they should be commended for the response rate. They beat the national average,” he said. “It seems like they do a professional job.”
For more on the election, read here.
The Havre de Grace Election will be held May 8 at the St. Patrick's Church Hall on Pennington Avenue.