OPINION: No time to be a hero

Diane DeNapoli

October 25, 2022 Respectfully Submitted by Diane DeNapoli

As we are only days away from Town Meeting and the upcoming, and ongoing midterm election, I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to talk with me and the Invest in Hingham Team on the phone, on the street, online and by text. It has really been interesting and informative to engage in conversations with my fellow Hingham residence and to work so closely with many town officials. One theme I found consistent in my conversation with people is that universally everyone seemed aware of the need for Foster School as soon as possible. What I found myself spending more time talking about was the urgency for the Public Safety Building.

Based on my previous tours of the Hingham Police Station and North Station, I felt it was imperative to ensure that our First Responders have safe and healthy working conditions. The Public Safety Building received unanimous support from all applicable governing bodies in town. So as an educator, and an advocate by nature, I couldn’t get my head around why the urgency for this Public Safety Building wasn’t loud and clear to some.

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to tour North Station with a local journalist who is covering a piece on the upcoming Special Town Meeting on Nov 1. Chief Murphy spent over an hour highlighting the many challenges with the 81-year-old facility. He explained about the Hot/ Cold zones in the house and the potential negative impacts on their First Responders health to working and living so close to dangerous chemicals. We toured the co-ed bunk rooms that have no privacy, lack space to store personal items and don’t even have room for a shared working desk. If you haven’t been in the house it looks like a tidy, but very stark, dorm room.

At the end of the tour, I asked Chief Murphy rather reluctantly “what will happen if the Public Safety Building doesn’t pass at the Special Town Meeting”. His warm and friendly face became very placid, and he said “My team will keep doing their job. It is the Police who have it worse than us. I feel badly for them”.

Being the daughter of a disabled veteran, I immediately recognized Chief Murphy’s stoic kind of response. My father who endured both physical and psychiatric disabilities after his time in the Air Force balked at the term “disabled veteran”. As my father aged, I would often go with him to appointments at the VA Hospital.

When he was asked about his pain or illnesses, he was always quick to respond in a matter of frank tone “there are a lot of guys way more banged up than me. Go help them”.

People who serve in the most dangerous jobs like active military, firefighters, and police personnel are trained to override pain, put others safety above their own and if, pay the ultimate sacrifice to protect their community. Often at their own peril communicating their personal needs and wants is something many of our heroes struggle with both during and after service. Sadly, according to a CDC survey in 2019 Police Officers have the highest rate of suicide of any profession in the United States.

Hingham, I respectfully ask you to speak up on behalf of our local First Responders by voting “YES” on the Public Safety Building. This new facility is essential to continuing to provide excellent service for the over 5,000 911 calls our First Responders respond to in a year in Hingham. It is imperative that Hingham provides ample, and compliant, spaces for all those seeking due process in our police station.

Lastly, a vote ‘YES” for the Public Safety Building will send a clear and united message that we the people of Hingham appreciate and support our dutiful, brave and stoic First Responders.

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