Military Buildup Drains Police, Fire Departments
Some Reservists Also Public Servants

POSTED: 6:18 p.m. EST January 31, 2003
UPDATED: 6:18 p.m. EST January 31, 2003

Story by Boston Channel

STOUGHTON, Mass. -- Across the state, military reservists are being called into active duty. For some of them, their absence leaves large holes in their communities' police or fire departments.

NewsCenter 5's Pam Cross reported that two new police academy graduates who were supposed to join the Stoughton police force were called up for duty. The two Marine reservists would have helped Stoughton deal with an already understaffed police department.

No one knows the exact number of police and firefighters who might be called up in Massachusetts. But a check of 95 police departments shows about 2 percent of their force has been activated.

Departments like Stoughton are left to use overtime and stretched schedules to fill the needs at home.

"We're in complete support, and what we have to do is just rearrange everything and do what we have to do," Stoughton Police Chief Manuel Cachopa said. "It's a time of need, and we all understand that."

New officer and reservist Patrick Burke said that he is happy to serve his country and then return to serve Massachusetts.

"It's going to be exciting," Burke said. "A year of good training and then come back to a great job, so no problems there at all."

Burke and fellow reservist John Fanning were granted extra time to graduate with their academy class.

"We were actually supposed to leave two weeks ago, so to get the extension to stay here, it's a blessing really," Fanning said. "To just be here and be with our classmates."

During the Gulf War, between 1,300 and 1,500 Massachusetts police and firefighters left their cities and towns for military service.