Story & Photos – Joseph Boyle
Have you seen the campaign signs? The first sign tells us to vote “YES” on Prop 1, and it points to lots more information at www.fix911.org.
For a clear understanding of why most fire fighters and police officers are supporting Prop 1, please review two items on the website:
- Watch Sergeant Nick Hausner’s 30-second video as he explains how our 911-radio system let us down after he and his partner, Deputy Kent Mundell, were shot while responding to a domestic violence call.
- Click on the link above the video that describes in detail what happened that night.
The second sign tells us “Stop Wasting Tax Funds. Reject Prop 1.” This very vocal minority opposition has posted numerous inaccurate statements on their website. To be fair, I am including their website in this article so you can be the judge. www.rejectprop1.com.
It is interesting that the first sign seems positive, constructive and focused on problem solving.
The second sign includes a strong hint of profanity in the form of a widely known acronym, “WTF.” If you do not know what that means, grab a nearby teenager and ask them what it means. The message on the sign feels deceptive. Once I detect deception, I have to question everything that is said by that party.
In early 1990, I became a commissioned police officer in Pierce County. On Day One, I discovered that our police radio system was broken, inadequate and unsafe for both law enforcement officers and the public.
There are two problems.
Problem #1: Every single day of service, multiple officers from various departments serving jurisdictions throughout the county experience the inability to communicate using their patrol car radio or their portable radio.
That means they are in a dead spot. “Dead spot” can easily take on a double meaning for police, fire and the public.
The first meaning is that the officer can’t hear the radio traffic, or 911 dispatchers cannot hear the officer. The second meaning is that someone ends up dead because of a broken and inadequate radio communication system.
Problem #2: Our various police agencies can’t quickly and efficiently communicate with each other. The fancy word for this problem is “interoperability.” We can set up a radio patch, but that takes time and is often ineffective. By the time the patch is set up, it could easily be too late. You can liken the radio patch to pushing a wheelbarrow before the invention of the wheel.
If you are ever the victim of crime, you want all of us folks with badges and guns to come to your rescue as quickly as possible.
A single second can make a difference to you. If I could hear the 911 call being sent to the Police Department, in real time I would rush to your aid. If I can’t hear the call, I am not coming.
There are lots of examples found in the various agencies that serve Pierce County. We have 8 dispatch centers and 10 radio system operators in the county. We can do better and we should do better.
In 2013 the FCC and radio industry will require a major change in our current radio system. Since it is mandated that we spend millions of dollars throughout the county to upgrade our police and fire communication systems, now is an ideal time to consolidate our dispatch and radio system so police and fire can operate on a common platform and thereby better serve the citizens of Pierce County.
This is a countywide issue, not a single agency issue. It is also your issue. Please do not think I am supporting this just because I am a police officer. I am getting very close to retirement. I am asking you to support Prop 1 because I have observed the problem for over 20 years. I know how bad it is.
My final point is this. The opposition loves to scream “No more taxes.”
While I support the no-more-tax concept, I do not do so blindly. I wish to be intelligent about tax decisions.
It is reasonable to try to boil down the scare tactics by asking the question, “How much money are we talking about?” The opposition likes to talk about millions of wasted tax dollars.
The answer is one-tenth of 1 percent.
If you spend $10 at Starbucks, you will pay an extra penny for public safety.
If you spend $100 at Stanley & Seafort’s Restaurant, you will pay an extra 10 cents for public safety.
If you spend $1,000 at Car Toys, you will pay an extra $1 for public safety.
If you spend $10,000 at the Harley-Davidson dealer, you will pay an extra $10 for public safety.
If you spend $100,000 wherever people go to spend that kind of money, you will pay an extra $100 for public safety.
Our 911-communication system is broken. We are facing a time-mandated opportunity to develop an intelligent and seamless well-coordinated communication system for police and fire.
Please join me in supporting a positive vote for our public safety. Vote Yes on Prop 1 on the Nov. 8 ballot.
Manny Pulus says
This is not about a one time fix of the 911 system but an ongoing tax with no sunset clause. Essentially it is another attempt by government agencies addicted to spending to mainline taxpayer money forever without accountability. If the 911 system is broken or overloaded then come to citizens with a specific bond proposal which details what is going to be done by whom and for how much. This proposition is nothing more than a blank check. Pierce Transit tried the same stunt last year…..”it’s only 3 cents on a $10.00 purchase” was their cry…….and voters saw through the charade.This time Proposition 1 is “same old, same old” just by a different agency and for a different amount. You keep adding up those .1% and before you know it you’re talking about real money out of your pocket. Isn’t 9.3% enough in a sales tax to fund government? Apparently not to government.
Lakewood Rez says
Agreed Manny. I also have a bit of a problem with them using ‘scare tactics’ to get what they want. I am in shock that our finest, are resorting to this.
Why is everything so ‘broken’in the first place, when we have voted many times to ‘fix’ 911.
When does it end?
Joseph Boyle says
Thank you for taking time to comment.
For the record, there is a 25 – year sunset clause on the proposal. That’s the life-span of the bonds that will be used to finance the construction of the new 911 dispatch facilities.
Lara Gavre says
To be “fair”, you should also point out that the Reject Prop 1 campaign has 2 signs. The 2nd sign does not include the Stop Wasting Tax Funds message. Including a picture of this sign would have gone a long way in proving your claim of being about fairness.
We chose to recycle the Stop Wasting Tax Fund signs from a previous campaign. While Police and Fire unions don’t have any problem spending thousands of dollars on signs they will use for only a couple of months, we can’t justify the waste when there are perfectly good signs available for our use.
Either way, I fail to see how the message is deceptive. Prop 1 is excessive and wasteful. While we do not deny the need for radio upgrades, the much needed radio upgrades can be had for a lot less money.
The fact that in the early 1990s you discovered that your police radio system was “broken, inadequate and unsafe” is inexcusable and I do not understand why, over the last 20 years, your union didn’t use their power to insist officer safety be a top priority of the administration. How could they fail to budget for over 20 years for such basic and essential equipment?
30 million dollar radio upgrades are a tiny fraction of what Prop 1 is all about. Yet that is all the proponets ever point to as their justification of Prop 1. What about the other hundreds of millions of dollars? I have yet to hear any way that Prop 1 will “fix” anything other than the radios.
I agree, you need new radios. Why not just ask for the 30 million dollars to upgrade them? Why a 25 year tax that will generate up to 600 million dollars? What happens in 25 years when the buildings and radios are old? Will they want us to continue paying the tax, saying “its not a new tax, just one you are already used to paying”?
I have many issues with Prop 1, as it is currently written, but find it truly disappointing that Pierce County didn’t take this opportunity to develop an innovative, efficient, cost effective 911 system that would benefit everyone in Pierce County. Instead they chose to propose more of the same, with a multi-million dollar price tag on it.
911 is not broken and saying it is just serves to use fear tactics to garner votes for a plan that wastes tax dollars and creates yet another wasteful, inefficient Pierce County agency.