Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Can a city without a Police Department be a place?

The Mound City Council is having a public meeting Thursday evening during it's City Council meeting discussing the future of the Mound Police department. For over a year the city has done an extensive study with it's neighbor, Minnetrista to share police departments. There were negotiations, which fell through a couple months ago. Over the summer, negotiations started with Orono about contracting Policing duties through that city.

Mound mayor writes about police agreement

It's clear from the city's latest newsletter the priorities of the city are continuing policing services at current levels, and keeping the budget at it's current level. If the city were to continue it's own Police department, cost would rise because of the need to hire a Police Chief and another position. raising costs significantly.

MPR has coincidentally started a series of stories about public safety in Minnesota cities. Lots of good reading here about what other cities are doing. An interesting fact I learned... Crime is down from the early '90's but everyone perceives that's it's worse!

I also did a broader search about about ways of dealing with police department budgets. There wasn't a lot to find besides stories about cities contracting or sharing services, but I did find this study done in New Jersey with a nice comprehensive list. Lots of ways and ideas about how a city might go when looking at restructuring it's police services and budget.

 Managing agency workload – prioritizing, reducing, and modifying service delivery
 Realigning agency objectives
 Partnering with other agencies, non-profits, and communities
 Reorganizing and rightsizing agencies
 Switching from reactive to proactive policing methods
 Adopting preventative oriented and problem solving service models
 Bolstering productivity
 Increasing efficiency
 Implementing force multipliers
 Sharing services
 Consolidating / merging local police agencies
 Regionalizing police agencies
 Outsourcing services

A safe place in Mound.

The Place

The Mound police/fire facility was constructed in 2004. The study completed in 2011 for the Minnetrista/Mound police services suggested the facility wase well designed and sized correctly for Mound 's needs. However, it also advised that if the Mound and Minnetrista department's consolidated, the Mound facility would not be needed. It sounds like the city is discussing a contracting service with Orono. Where does the Mound facility fit in with a relationship with Orono?

How important of a place is the Police Department? The Mound Police Department is a place I myself have to frequent very little. My daughters have probably been there more often than I have because of school tours of the facility. It is nice to have a place close when it is needed. It's nice to see our police officers at city council meetings giving updates. How much of this will continue if the city contracts out to Orono?

Again, the mayor and the city have said, service levels will continue, or be enhanced, while holding the budget at current levels.

These are tough choices our city council and staff need to make, and Mound is not alone in these decisions. Cities all over Minnesota are struggling with these choices, and frankly, they are going to get tougher. State and federal money is drying up, so cities are relying more and more on the taxes they collect.

This is part of the reason "A Place in Mound" was created. Mound has many wonderful places. It is important that the people of Mound appreciate, utilize, and improve our Places. In doing so, the city will be able to better leverage it's finances and overall budget.