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Cops & crime: Manchester's election-year problem

Crime in Manchester (as in most cities) spikes every summer. It’s as predictable as kids lining up at Cremeland, bikers returning to Laconia, and guys showing off their tattoos at Hampton Beach. Just as predictable: in a municipal election year, someone will present the recurrence of this annual pattern as a sudden and unexpected rise in crime that requires an immediate remedy.

Positioning themselves for next month’s election, aldermen on Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution stating that “city officials should be pursuing every opportunity to hire additional police officers, including applying for grants and funding through COPS or other applicable government programs.”

And here we go. The question, as always, is not whether Manchester could benefit from more officers on the beat. It could. The question is whether the city can fund those positions. It cannot. Applying for federal grants is no solution. As a condition of receiving the short-term grants, the city typically must promise to continue funding the positions for a specified period of time after the grants end. Such terms put the city in the position of having to raise taxes.

Tuesday’s resolution was proposed by Aldermen Dan O’Neil and Patrick Arnold, naturally. O’Neil never misses an opportunity to swell city union ranks, regardless of the cost, and Arnold is a candidate for mayor desperately in search of a message. Amazingly, he has settled on crime. He pretends that this summer’s seasonal spike represents an “epidemic” of violence. Or worse, he is an alderman who doesn’t know that crime swells in the summer and drops in the fall.


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