Your Views: Public safety is not only good for the community, its good for business


Part of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerces mission is to promote a good quality of life for Alexandrians. That might sound like fluff but we take it very seriously because, frankly, its good for business. An overall high quality of life makes us competitive with our neighbors and better able to attract a qualified workforce.

As weve said time and again, about half of our nearly 900 Chamber members not only own their business here but are also residents. So we have a vested interest to help ensure that Alexandria maintains the high quality of life that we all crave and want to enjoy.
Many factors go in to creating a high quality of life: education, environment, social factors, standard of living, arts and culture and economic development, just to name a few. But the most critical to both businesses and residents is public safety.       
Feeling safe and secure in our homes and in the community is a basic human right. Feeling and being safe is a key factor to the overall health of the community and its quality of life. We are very fortunate to have stellar police, fire / EMT and sheriffs departments serving our city day and night.  
The city government seems to be maintaining its funding for the police and sheriffs departments. The police also will soon move into a new headquarters, which should enhance their operations. We all need to be vigilant, however, that funding does not decrease for the police and sheriffs departments core mission and operations. Even though crime is down, we still need to continue the current levels of policing so we can continue to lower crime rates.  
The fire and EMT department is seeing a slight increase in funding, but not enough for future years. The department is adding 12 firefighters, funded in large part by a federal grant. Having four firefighters per engine is a best practice for the industry, which is what all of our neighboring jurisdictions do, and what this grant allows us to begin. But we will need to find funds for these positions when the grant expires at every fire station, not just some.
We need to increase our support for public safety personnel. These are tough jobs and it is critical to our community that we keep the best personnel in these jobs.  Remember that we are now asking our public safety personnel to pay more into their retirement system, despite being understaffed and loaded with outdated equipment. These conditions might make being a public safety employee in Alexandria a little less attractive.  Therefore, it is vital that our city fund our public safety departments at the appropriate level to enable them to fulfill their missions with the right people and the right tools.
Our public safety personnel contribute to the overall high quality of life we have here in Alexandria. A safe city is good for businesses and residents, so its important that we all show our appreciation for these essential members of our community. 
A great opportunity to do that is to attend the Chambers annual Public Safety Valor Awards luncheon coming up on April 26. We encourage all members of our community to be there and perhaps sponsor a public safety person to attend as well. You will hear inspiring stories about the courage and conviction of these amazing people and the meritorious acts they performed over the last year.  Visit for more information about the program and say thank you to the next firefighter, EMT, sheriffs deputy or police personnel you encounter. We are a fortunate city indeed.

The writer is president and CEO of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce.