There aren’t many City functions that don’t affect public safety one way or another. Crime prevention. Road safety. Disaster preparedness. Code enforcement. Victim support. Block watches. We’re the Public Safety Advisory Committee of the City of Lakewood, and it’s our responsibility to study and understand every one of these areas and more. To find realistic solutions to problems brought to us by the Council and the Police Department. Look forward to potential issues that our City may face and find ways to avoid them. See if there are resources or people in the community we can tap to provide new knowledge or opportunities for the people in our community.
We have a big job.
A new year is dawning with new Leadership on our Committee, and it is time to think about that job now more than ever. The realm of public safety is so huge, evolving so rapidly that we will always need help (yours, mostly) to manage it. There are without a doubt things our
City could be doing better to work towards public safety; things that we’re working on. And the needs of our City will always be changing from year to year as new people choose to make homes here and new trends shape the world. But there will always be constants. Out of the million things we want, there are a few things that we will always truly need, no matter the circumstances, no matter the year, no matter the budget. Things that we know about, things that we can quantify, things that make the public safe now and always will.
What do we need?
We need 114 commissioned Police Officers on the Lakewood force. Right now we have 99. We can’t afford to lose a single one, and we need the funds to attract and expand as soon as humanly possible.
We need a functioning justice system, where our Attorneys and Courts are fully supported and staffed. Our Prosecution and Defense teams work miracles with what they have; they’re backlogged instead of swamped and frantic instead of overwhelmed and doing more with their resources than we could hope for. Our long term goal is to reduce crime and casework; our short term reality is that our Courts need every team member they have right now.
We need Community Service Officers, around and active in all our Neighborhoods. Our CSO teams are more than just boots on the ground, they’re a link between the people and the Police. In the short time they’ve been working in the City, they’ve been essential in finding problem sites and working with neighbors to put in place fixes that work and last.
We need safe community programs for kids to get involved in. Quality after school and Summer activities for youth do a lot of good things; they develop leadership skills, keep kids moving and healthy, and let young people explore their innate talents. They also keep them out of trouble. Kids who join sports teams don’t join gangs; low cost, supervised community activities are what we need to keep them on the path to good things.
We need thriving human services to help our people find work and live productive lives. Poverty makes good people do stupid things to feed their family; protecting the stability and wellbeing of people going through hard times ensures the safety of everyone.
We need to realize that sacrifices in services means sacrifices in safety.
When we lose a Police Officer, when we lose a Court staffer, when we lose an after-school activity, we lose not just people but potential. We lose tools that we need, resources we can use to help maintain safety. If we want to be safe, we cannot do without these people. We
cannot sacrifice Police. We cannot sacrifice our Courts. We cannot sacrifice our Neighborhood Links. We cannot sacrifice our community programs. We cannot forget the people and projects that have brought us to where we are, that have been there for us and our families when we’ve needed them, that have been bringing change and opportunity to
our neighborhoods, that have been keeping our kids active and out of trouble, that have made us not just a City but a true Community that works together looks out for its own.
It’s our job as a Committee to advise the City on the ways it can make its citizens safe. It is the responsibility of the citizens to listen, think, and do what’s needed to make the City work. If we cannot commit to funding and supporting the things we need, then we’ll always be struggling with crime, danger and poverty. We came together to form a City because unity gave us the strength and the potential to make the calls and protect what has protected us. If we band together we can make this City safe, now and forever.
Vice Chair, The Lakewood Public Safety Advisory Committee
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