Salisbury City Council President Jake Day this week praised the mayor’s and police chief’s proposal to add 15 officers to city streets by fall 2016.
“This is what I talked about throughout the election, when I ran for city council,” he said, recalling law enforcement officials including Chief Barbara Duncan and Sheriff Mike Lewis, had told him Salisbury “desperately needed 30 new officers.”
“That was the only way we could significantly take a swipe at the crime rate. We have made progress, but we still are on that list of 100 highest crime rates in the county,” Day said.
Even adding 15 officers would be a “huge leap forward,” he said, adding he’d like to see 30 eventually.
The proposal was made by Mayor Jim Ireton and Duncan. City council members will vote on it when they vote on the mayor’s proposed FY 2015 budget.
Ireton is confident the city council will pass his budget and, therefore, add officers.
“Above all, our elected officials live in our neighborhoods. I know they have the same confidence in Chief Duncan, and our officers, that I do. I expect no delay in making this happen,” he said.
The city added four officers about five years ago, and was pleased with the subsequent decrease in crime, Day said, adding he’s curious to see the difference 15 new officers makes.
He said Duncan doesn’t necessarily want 30 more officers permanently, but feels increased manpower for a few years will lower crime in the town, whose population is 31,000.
Day said another 160,000 people come into Salisbury daily to work or shop.
Ireton and Duncan announced the 2014 Salisbury Police Department Investment Funding Proposal on April 28.
Ireton, in a press release from his office, said the proposal is highlighted in his FY 2015 budget. The plan is to make a police recruiter position, now held by a sworn officer, into a civilian position and to move one officer back to patrol duty.
The budget transfer of $277,000 in the police department would make four dispatch positions, held by sworn officers, into civilian positions, and move four officers back to patrol duty.
The budget amendment is to transfer $832,822 to hire 10 new officers who would be trained for patrol.
“Chief Duncan, Colonel Barkley and the entire Salisbury Police Department should be commended for their work,” Ireton said.
“As we come to the midpoint of this decade knowing what we know about our population, how it will increase and how many people visit Salisbury in a single day, it is clear that reaching the goal of under 2,000 Part 1 crimes in a calendar year will take more resources,” he said.
Part I crimes are identified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as including murder, rape, robbery , aggravated assault, burglary , larceny theft, motor vehicle theft and arson.
Duncan said residents and business owners have “consistently reached out to work with SPD, and our partners, the Maryland State Police and Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office to reduce crime” and called the announcement “proof positive our mayor is committed to funding the Salisbury Police Department to produce long-term solutions.”
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