Friday, March 06, 2009

Council Candidates and Public Safety

I don't get a daily newspaper on a regular basis right now, and that's probably how I missed the LWV City Council candidates' forum last night. Mike Wiggins of the Sentinel didn't, though, and his coverage of the event provided some good insights into what the candidates are thinking, particularly about the need for better public safety facilities.

It seems that the consensus among all of the candidates was to try to break down these improvements into smaller projects, with a little more of an austere approach. This bodes well for other improvement issues within the main project emphasis that I have mentioned before, such as the construction of a new Communication Center in a location better suited to emergency planning and security concerns.

Had I been there, I would have likely have tried to incorporate into a question the five points for public safety improvement that I detailed in a post and Sentinel commentary this past November. These are in addition to, and complementary of, any efforts to improve on the physical infrastructure of the City's public safety agencies.

I would have also attempted to elicit a response from each of the candidates on these points, which I will summarize below:

Regionalization / Consolidation - Begin discussion on the feasibility of resource sharing, and eliminating certain components of public safety that are duplicated unnecessarily. Conduct a feasibility study of a regional police force serving the entire Grand Valley.

Annexation Reform - Re-evaluate the current system of annexing property into the city, including a re-negotiation of the Persigo agreement of 1998. Delay additional annexations, especially in outlying areas, until a formal plan for improving public safety infrastructure is in place and underway.

Citizen Advisory Board - Establish a Public Safety Advisory Board, made up of interested citizens that apply for appointment in the same manner as any other City or County volunteer board.

Emergency Management - Grand Junction is one of the largest cities in the state without its' own Emergency Manager. Reliance on the county for these services flies in the face of the City's stated commitment to effective service delivery, and creates an unreasonable span of control for the County's Emergency Management department.

Human Resources - Critical to making any infrastructure or shared resource solution work is adequate personnel to plan, implement, and manage the various technical and process systems that must accompany any new facility, as well as effectively manage and maintain the legacy systems that our public safety responders depend on to do the job now.

I'll be forwarding these points to all of the City Council candidates I can reach, in an attempt to secure their opinion and input on the issues surrounding those overdue public safety improvements that must be undertaken in a tenuous economic climate. I'll let everyone know what I receive.

My birthday is tomorrow. I think I may give myself and some newspaper a present with a home delivery subscription.

Have a good weekend.

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