If a group of City Councilors and Cantabrigians have their way, the feet of blue-suited policemen will be pounding the streets of Cambridge in increased numbers.
Supporters of the new program, which will appear as a non-binding referendum on tomorrow's Cambridge ballot, say the addition of 30 foot-patrolmen will attack crime at its roots.
"Foot Patrolmen have the opportunity to help parents and prevent crime because they know the neighborhoods and gain lots of information concerning the people there," said Alfred Vellucci, sponsor of the referendum in the Cambriodge City Council.
"By nature, car patrols work better in pursuing those who have already commited crimes," whereas foot patrols work more towards prevent- ing it, said Council candidate and director ofthe Cambrige Community of Elders Edward Cyr.
Despite broad-based support for the proposedprogram, several councilors said that it isessential that the increased numbers of footpatrolmen do not result in a decrease in thenumber of car patrols.
"It's very important, in order to dealeffectively with such mobile criminals as carthieves and bank robbers, that we keep theexisting force intact," Councilor David E.Sullivan said.
Supporters of the program, which has anestimated cost of $1 million, say that theaddition of 30 foot-patrol officers in theneighborhoods will also personalize the policeforce, especially in the eyes of the young.
"Foot patrolmen went out of style because oftheir [high] cost," Vellucci said. "[But] havingpolice on a beat creates a camaraderie between thepolice and the kids in the neighborhood."
"Auto patrols tend to become very impersonal,"said Cyr, adding, "I've gotten to know the beatcops in Central Square very well. Cops who know metend to respond better to our needs."
According to its proponents the referendum hasgreat popular support and shouild pass by anoverwhelming margin.
"In every neighborhood where I've talked topeople there is great support for the idea," Cyrsaid. "I look for the referendum to pass by analmost 5-to-1 margin. There is no issue on whichpeople are so unified."
"The issue seems to be catching fire in thelast few days," Vellucci said. He added furtherthat "people all over town have been concernedabout this for a long time.