Council approves crime reduction plan

ARLINGTON Discussion was spirited at the July 2 Arlington City Council meeting, when Arlington Police Chief John Gray introduced a crime reduction and public safety services plan.
After Gray summarized the plans staff additions, resource allocations and proposed programs, Council members Marilyn Oertle and Graham Smith debated the funding of the plan.
The plan requests $116,260 for 2007 and $182,557 for 2008 to fund evidence booking and tracking software, expansion of the reserve officer program, implementation of a new retired senior volunteer program, the addition of a drug detection dog to the airport and the hiring of a full-time police support officer and new airport resource officer, as well as a part-time property and evidence specialist and transcription employee.
The plans cost-free measures would include a college intern program, organized neighborhood groups, regular communication with neighborhoods and individuals, and the reassignment of two anti-crime police officers and an airport resource officer to patrol duty.
This would give us more officers on call 24/7, more proactive police work and a closer partnership with the community in preventing crime, Gray said. Cumulatively, this should reduce crime.
Of the 2007 costs, the airport fund would cover 100 percent of the $39,847 in salary, benefits and equipment for the second airport resource officer, while the remaining $76,413 would be covered by reallocating a portion of the Hogan lease payments. In 2008, the airport fund would again cover 100 percent of the costs associated with the second airport resource officer, this time in the amount of $68,266, while an additional $67,500 is expected to come from increasing the business tax rate for water, sewer, solid waste and TV cable to 6 percent, effective April 1, 2008.
Oertle expressed her concerns about the remaining $46,781 of the plans 2008 costs, which the plan predicted could be covered by allocating a portion of the Wal-Mart sales tax.
Im a little frightened by how well pay for this, Oertle said. This budget is based on a business that hasnt even broken ground yet.
Smith responded by characterizing public safety as the number one issue in cities throughout the region, as their needs for police, fire and emergency medical services increase with their populations.
Weve got to find the money for this, Smith said. We may have to cut from something else. We cant afford to turn this down.
I dont want to, Oertle said. But Id feel a lot better about it if I knew where the money was going to come from.
Council member Chris Raezer echoed Oertle by describing the plan as allocating funds that dont exist, while Council member Sally Lien acknowledged that the plan would require a long-term funding commitment, even though the current proposal only provides funding for the first year and a half.
Smith admitted that he didnt know yet what other sources of funding could be utilized, or what other city expenses might be trimmed to fund the costs of this plan, but he nonetheless deemed it a top priority.
In spite of their reservations, the Council voted unanimously to approve the plan, and in so doing, committed to finding the funding to make it happen.
Police plan proposed funding:
n Evidence booking/tracking software: $15,000 in 2007, no cost in 2008.
n Police support officer: $30,819 in 2007, $57,626 in 2008.
Part-time property and evidence specialist: $13,994 in 2007, $25,741 in 2008.
Part-time transcription employee: No cost in 2007, $ 21,624 in 2008.
Expansion of reserve officer program: $5,300 in 2007, $5,500 in 2008.
College intern program: No cost in 2007 or 2008.
New retired senior volunteer program: $1,200 in 2007, $1,800 in 2008.
Organized neighborhood groups: No cost in 2007 or 2008.
Regular communication with neighborhoods and individuals: No cost in 2007 or 2008.
Reassignment of two anti-crime police to patrol duty: No cost in 2007 or 2008.
Reassignment of one airport resource officer to expanded beat patrol duty: No cost in 2007 or 2008.
New airport resource officer: $39,847 in 2007, $68,266 in 2008.
Addition of one drug detection dog for airport resource officer: $10,100 in 2007, $2,000 in 2008.
Total costs: $116,260 in 2007, $182,557 in 2008.

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