By Christy Porter, Managing Editor
Police Chief Pat Burton visited the Licking Senior Center on Thursday to answer questions from local residents about Proposition P. The proposition is for a one-half of one percent city sales tax on purchases made within the city, for which the funds generated will be used exclusively for the Licking Police Department.
Only registered voters for the city will be allowed to vote for the sales tax, but the funding from Prop P will affect all those who work, attend school, shop and visit, including tourists, in the city limits of Licking. While one may not live in the city limits, law enforcement presence is necessary for the safety of family members and friends who do reside in the city, the students and school personnel, the businesses themselves, and individuals during their own visits to town.
The safety of our community is the responsibility of the police department, so it is imperative that they are well trained, well equipped and have a definite presence. The current officers are well trained, and training continues on a regular basis in all aspects of law enforcement.
They are equipped, with much of the equipment purchased with the aid of grants; Burton feels fortunate and grateful for the assistance. However grants for equipment and training can be hit or miss as its availability tends to be very specific and does not necessarily fill all the needs of the department. This can be true in staffing situations as well.
Crime continues to escalate nationwide and is a more frequent reality in smaller communities.
Burton shared the plans for the funding, which prioritize hiring a full-time School Resource Officer for Licking R-VIII schools. The officer, in cooperation with the city and school, would reinstate a law enforcement presence at the campus.
The hiring of an additional officer would allow for availability as calls warrant, for vacations to be taken without minimizing presence, and for specializations to be better utilized, such as officers to focus on investigations and bringing convictions for lawbreakers.
A third priority would be the purchase of equipment not available through grants that would enhance the department’s capabilities, resources, and the safety of the officers.
And a final initial priority would be the ability to offer competitive wages to retain quality-trained staff and to employ quality staff, as need dictates.
Overall response to the question and answer opportunity was very positive, with comments ranging from, “I am so pro-police,” and “It’s good that the tax will be used strictly for the police department, and not be diverted for anything else.”
Burton is planning a town hall meeting for the near future and urges anyone with questions about Proposition P to contact him at 573-674-2521.