My earlier post on the public safety seems to have generated some interests among my readers. Among those is an article published today on the UM paper Diamondback. With public safety being the hot topic and I’m probably the only candidate who is proposing some serious measure to address this important issue, I think I should go for the second round on this subject.
In my previous post, I advocated no-cost and low-cost measures to address this important issue in immediate term. This includes strengthening the community based policing program, such as Neighborhood Watch, and a smart auto-alert system as crimes happen.
As for the police presence on our streets goes, contract policing could still be best cost effective solution for the short term, however, for the long term, we should be looking into having our own police without any tax increase on the residents.
To address the growing concerns on the public safety from the residents, our city conducted a feasibility study on having city’s own police program back in 2007 – you can view the report here on the city’s website.
Since the 2007 city-sponsored police study report, the city budget for contract police has gone up by 100% (from 0.5 to 1 million). This figure is expected to rise steadily in coming years to meet the growing concerns of our citizens on public safety, thus closing the gap between the cost of maintaining contract police and the city’s own police. Per the 2007 report, we need close to 3 million dollars to have our own police. We’re currently spending 1 million on the contract police and another 1 million will come from the county because of not using their regular police service. The conclusion is we’re not very far-off in having our own police.
Having our own police will not only make our residents feel more secure, but this will also help in generating revenue by contracting them out to special events throughout the year.
We should also be looking into the possibility of the formation of a unified city police in conjunction with the University police to reduce cost and overlapping of services of both police departments. More than a third of our residents think that the communication between the various police forces in our city is in a dysfunctional state.
Many of our university students live in our neighborhood – some say half of our residents are UM students. Thus the University Police should have a special interest in serving these students across the city. One may argue that the University Police should only be serving the students in the neighborhood and not other residents, but the same argument can go with the situation when they are currently and most likely served by the contract police, at the cost of the local tax payer’s dollars. As you can see, this will be another test for the University – City relationship, where both can win at the end.
We should also be looking into other creative ideas of supporting expenses, such as a “Patrol Vehicle Sponsorship Program”, something similar done in the City of Toledo and other cities.
I’m sure, there could be other ideas from the concerned residents. The key is to start looking into different options seriously in the context of an increasingly expensive contract police program and growing concern of public safety.