Tuesday, Jun 25 2013 12:00 AM

How communities shoot themselves in the foot

We are all frustrated with the waste of our tax dollars at the state and federal level. But to take this frustration out on a local police agency is wrong.

Stallion Springs measure "B" was supported by 59 percent of the vote but was defeated because it did not reach the two-thirds majority required by law. The measure made a reasonable request for $120 per year per parcel to fund two addition police officers -- that's $10 per month, a visit to Starbucks.

To claim that the Stallion Springs police department is understaffed is an understatement. The only reason the SSPD functions at all is because of the dedications of its three police officers. Twelve hours shifts followed by 12 hours of "on call," meaning that they cannot leave the community. This goes on seven day a week. Factor in vacation, training, sick and court time and you have a very difficult situation.

When most people leave work, that's it for the day, they can go and do as they wish. Not so with the SSPD.

Opponents to the tax increased claimed that the crime rate doesn't justify the number of officers asked for. The fact that the crime rate is low is a credit to the dedicated officers who work tirelessly to keep it low, but times are changing and we live in a more dangerous world. You can't expect to continue to enjoy this low crime rate as prison realignment puts more criminals on the street. They will look for the soft targets -- communities with understaffed police departments.

Stallion Springs is a very proactive community, having both Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) and Neighborhood Watch programs. But these programs are only as good as the first responders' ability to follow up. It is sad that a small minority feels that it is their responsibility to determine the level of public safety the community shall have.

In the scheme of things the cost is inconsequential when compared to what we send to Sacramento and Washington. With Measure B, every cent would remain in the community.

This propensity to shoot ourselves in the foot isn't just endemic to Stallion Springs. Bear Valley Springs, the community I live in, does the same thing to itself. Rejecting locking mail boxes so we are the main target for mail and identify theft. Refusing to add a mere $40 to the police tax that would prevent the need to dip into the dwindling reserves. And creating a climate of frugality that belies any chance of getting the needed funds to fix our roads.

The vocal minority stands in the way of progress in the name of saving money in the short run while the crumbling infrastructure erodes the value of our properties in the long run. We both limp into an uncertain future with latte in hand.

At a recent meetingn Bear Valley Police Chief Walters stated that the BVPD and the SSPD would be working closely together, sharing training opportunities, and providing backup and coverage when needed to the mutual benefit of both communities. In answer to the inevitable critic who will ask, "why should BV be helping SS?" The simple answer is, "that's what neighbors do."

JIM NELSON invites anyone who would like to learn more about the CERT concept of "neighbor helping neighbor" to sign up for notification of the next CERT training class by calling him at 821-5205.

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