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Natick chief: more stores = more cops

Posted by Erica Noonan, Globe West September 7, 2007 03:51 PM

NATICK COLLECTION BLOG-A-THON

Nobody was anticipating the opening of the new Natick Collection with more concern than Natick Police Chief Dennis Mannix.

He knows that an additional 550,000-square-feet of retail space, 100 new stores and thousands more shoppers descending on the mall means his 53-officer force will be busier. But he doesn't know how much busier.

"I am expecting a significant impact,'' Mannix said this afternoon. ``It's hard to know yet exactly what the strain will be, but there will be more need for services. I foresee in the long-term we will need more officers.''

Currently, most larceny calls and a good number of other disturbance complaints to Natick police come from the mall, the chief said. Suspects are generally booked in Natick's lockup, and arraigned across the street at Natick District Court. However, that system might have to change if there are too many of them, he said.

Increased traffic is also a huge concern. A combination of regular and paid details helped guide opening day customer off of Speen Street in to the 7,000 spaces surrounding the old and new mall buildings.

Mannix is finalizing a holiday mall traffic policing plan, and along with the fire department, expects to be talking to town officials regularly about the toll the new mall is taking on public services.

The townspeople of Natick can expect to see the issue hit them in the same spot the Collection has targeted -- their pocketbooks.

The hundred of thousands in mitigation money the town is receiving from the Collection expansion has been earmarked for new public safety equipment and other budget items, not for salaries, Mannix said.

-- Erica Noonan

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