06/17/08 — Beyond 911: Costs warrant overview of community safety needs

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Beyond 911: Costs warrant overview of community safety needs

A reverse 911 system seems like a good idea.

How could anyone be against a communication device that allows law enforcement and other officials the chance to get emergency messages to people faster?

Well, all that is wonderful — except for one thing.

This is just a drop in the bucket of what is needed to keep this community safer.

There might be a need for new quarters for some county offices — and there might even be a demand for equipment, raises for personnel and a thousand other concerns that county leaders need to think about in this budget cycle.

And there might even not be a way to fund anything more because county taxpayers won’t allow it.

But in the end, what the county should be considering is getting more of the essentials.

And that means figuring out a way to attract good law enforcement personnel and then paying them wages that are competitive with other counties in this area.

It is a problem all over this state and in many law enforcement agencies. Smaller communities find it hard to get the best and the brightest because they cannot compete with the salary and benefits packages offered by other departments.

And yes, that is true in police departments, fire departments and on rescue squads, too.

And rest assured, you want the best of the best in these jobs if you can possibly attract them. One of these men and women just might save your life or that of a family member.

So, we don’t have an unlimited pool of money — and Wayne County taxpayers are not so sure they want to shell out a bunch more money — what can we do to make this county safer?

First off, we have to acknowledge that this world is not getting safer. There are more and more developments in the world of drugs, gangs, fraud and a myriad of other confidence schemes and concerns that make today’s criminals harder to catch and are putting more of them on the street.

Also, illegal immigration and the crime and drugs that go along with it are continuing to be an issue for law enforcement officers.

And that does not even cover what is necessary to house offenders, process them and to run crime and gang prevention programs.

In other words, we need an objective and thorough analysis of what we need — and how much we need to pay for it.

After that, we can go about coming up with a long-term plan to achieve it.

When presented with a reasoned argument as well as a thoughtful and responsible budget, taxpayers just might be willing to drop a little more money to make sure our streets are safer.

Published in Editorials on June 17, 2008 12:05 PM