OPINION

A yes on Question 2 helps Independence keep police officers

We Support Pets and Police Campaign Committee
Mark McDonald, Linda Pringle, Brent Schondelmeyer, Mayor Eileen Weir and Jason White, all of Independence

We support amending Proposition P (Question 2) on the November ballot. 

Our reasons are straightforward.  

This is a no-tax increase measure that will provide additional flexibility and resources to recruit, retain and improve current police services – a dire community need. 

Independence has struggled to properly fund its police department. This is not a recent development but a true community challenge for over a decade. 

Voters twice resoundingly defeated increased funding for more sworn police officers; first in 2009 and then in 2012. That left our police department understaffed and underfunded and contributed to our current situation. 

That’s why Proposition P (2019) was so important.  

Voters approved a tax on internet sales dedicated to addressing two community needs – annual funding ($750,000) for the no-kill animal shelter and new resources to hire 30 additional police officers. 

All of us who have signed here were deeply involved in leading that campaign and thrilled when it passed. The community loves its animals and finally (after a third try) supported additional funding for police officers. 

The initial financial projections were modest – perhaps $1.5 million annually. 

Then COVID-19 hit. 

Online sales boomed. Delivery trucks are daily leaving packages and parcels at our homes. Sales tax collected exceeded expectations. 

This gives us a choice – an important one involving public safety. 

The obligations to the animal shelter are covered.  

Additional resources to expand the police force in the future are secure. But that could be years away. That is a future challenge for another day.  

Our present challenge – a looming one – is staving off the loss of existing police personnel. 

We currently have a 20% vacancy rate. Over the next five years, about 50 officers – a quarter of the police force – are eligible for full retirement. 

We need the flexibility to use the 2019 voter-approved Proposition P funds to address current needs – unless our staffing situation worsens – while holding in reserve funds for adding more police offices at a later date. 

None of us anticipated the challenges communities across the nation – not just our own – face in staffing police departments.  

Law enforcement will not improve if we fail to address this real and pressing predicament – retaining officers already serving our community. 

That is why the proposed change to Proposition P is so important. 

A vote Yes on Question 2 does this: 

• Continues funding at the same level for the no-kill animal shelters. Pets are still protected. 

• Provides additional funding for current police needs while retaining the  commitment to hire additional officers. 

• Involves no tax increase, only additional flexibility to support current and police needs and improve recruitment. 

We encourage you to vote YES on Question 2 on Nov. 2.