Few government functions are as critical to health, happiness and security as public safety.
To sit on a porch, walk down the street, or make an evening run for ice cream are simple pleasures that are made a lot less simple and a lot less pleasurable when one has to worry about being shot, robbed or accosted in the process.
The risk having one’s home or motor vehicle ransacked, invaded, stolen or vandalized is also an unpleasant thought that most all of us would prefer to avoid worrying about, much less experiencing.
We tend to take for granted freedom from such fears and concerns in our cozy community of Blue Springs, as we read each day about other locales, some not so far away, where such is not the case.
And as our community grows, ages, and evolves, we must not lose sight of the importance of vigilance in maintaining its sense of security and the quality of our police protection.
Blue Springs is at a crossroads in this pursuit.
Increasing commerce, traffic, and population, along with shifting demographics, add to the strains on the police department to keep up with public safety needs.
Equipment and facilities are aging, becoming overburdened, and are in serious need of attention.
Manpower is stretched thin.
To ignore these circumstances is to invite a diminishment in the level of public safety within Blue Springs, for those who live, travel through, and spend time here.
Our police radio system is inadequate and obsolete, and by 2013 will be out of compliance with FCC regulations.
In fact, in some locations within the city, they don’t work at all much of the time, and they are not compatible with neighboring public safety agencies, making communication, coordination of efforts, and cooperation a cumbersome proposition, to say the least.
This is one of the issues at stake in the vote on April 5 for the Blue Springs Public Safety Sales Tax Initiative, which, if it passes, would provide for the replacement of the city’s decades old analog police radio communications system with an up to date digital system.
The digital system would resolve concerns about service area gaps and reliability problems, would comply with FCC regulations going into effect in two years, would facilitate direct communication with other agencies that serve Eastern Jackson County both in and around Blue Springs, and could lead to the possible consolidation of regional dispatching services which would reduce costs and increase efficiency areawide.
This initiative would also provide funding to meet the growing need for police manpower and personnel for the city, including a needed increase in the number of patrol and street crime officers, with a corresponding increase in law enforcement visibility and reduction in police response times.
Current police facilities, the newest of which are some 24 years old, would also be upgraded, renovated, and expanded by the initiative.
These upgrades would be funded by a one-half cent sales tax, on retail purchases within the city, by residents and non residents alike.
It goes without saying that nobody likes taxes. But when it comes to the basic security of our homes, families and community, this initiative represents a small price to pay.
I say let’s do all we can to keep Blue Springs safe and secure, and I’ll see you at the polls on April 5.