Addressing Alexandria’s public safety needs after years of budget cuts

Addressing Alexandria’s public safety needs after years of budget cuts

By Bryan B. Kirkes, Alexandria

While the mayor, city council and city manager are planning on spending millions of taxpayer dollars on a waterfront redevelopment plan and a Metro station, Alexandria’s public safety departments are suffering.

There have been many cuts to the budgets of the city’s fire and police departments over several years. These have adversely affected the quality of life of residents in the City of Alexandria by failing to provide our public safety departments with adequate resources. Recently, we have had two armed robberies in or near our development. The perpetrator has yet to be arrested.

We, like other communities, have seen minor offenses committed in our development in the past, but these are the first serious crimes committed in our neighborhood. Subsequently, many residents are worried.

One might wonder if the budget cuts were a contributing factor.

Most cities across the country are experiencing fiscal difficulties. However, during these difficult times, a city — in my opinion — should focus its resources on public safety, schools and infrastructure. Anything else should be secondary until new sources of revenue are realized.

Additionally, I believe it is time for the police department to have a residents’ advisory board, like most other major U.S. cities have. This board (made up of volunteers) would help the police department with communicating issues in their communities; discus the use of nonlethal force (mace, electroshock weapons, bean bag rounds, etc.); explain the purchase of equipment; and evaluate the placement of personnel in areas with high crime rates. Just think about what could have been prevented in Ferguson, Mo., if they had had an advisory board?

I am asking all city residents to contact the mayor, city council or city manager and ask for two things: First, stop cutting our public safety budget. Second, create a resident advisory board to oversee the police department.

Let’s all work together to make this city a better, and safer, place to live.