By Tom Henry | in the May 13, 2017 edition of the Blytheville Courier News
“High performers and those who are set up for success love accountability.” – Dan Rockwell
“Accountability is the glue that ties commitment to results.” –Anonymous
It is entirely unfair to expect a baseball player to knock a grand slam home run if he isn’t given a bat. It is entirely unfair to expect students to excel academically if they are not given any textbooks and a painter can’t paint a masterpiece unless they have brushes. Likewise, it has been argued that a police department can’t eliminate or restrain crime in Blytheville when they don’t have the resources, pay scale, building, and etcetera to do so.
Well, after Tuesday’s vote, the people of Blytheville made it abundantly clear that they were willing to throw more money at the problem because they support their police and fire departments. With the passage of both the Public Safety Tax and the Justice Center Bonds, the Blytheville Police Department will, according to Mayor James Sanders, all Blytheville City Council members and Police Chief Ross Thompson, be able to put into place a pay scale that brings Blytheville police up to state average for cities our size. They will also be able to move out of the old police department and district court and into the new justice center at the former armory.
Additionally, we the people are investing up to $2.5 million into the freely acquired facility in order to remodel, equip and design the workspace in a way that optimizes the department’s operations to maximum efficiency.
Bringing the department’s pay up to state average, according to the above named city leaders, will also stop the hemorrhage of police officers that come to Blytheville to get trained and then shortly thereafter leave for better paying jobs elsewhere. They also say that it will encourage advancement through the ranks, thereby increasing the experience and talent of the overall department.
To my knowledge, no one has argued that the department is short of equipment such as weapons, cars, vests, and etcetera. At least no one has asked for any in the committee meetings that I have been to despite council members asking if they did.
Now, from what I can see, the Blytheville Police Department is set up for success. Now, if B.P.D. does not dramatically knock down the crime rate in the city, the only resource left to examine is the people involved.
We the people will no longer tolerate a crime rate similar to metropolises such as Memphis or Detroit – that is just ridiculous. We the people will no longer tolerate having a city where we have to barricade ourselves in at night for fear of being killed or robbed. We the people will no longer tolerate Blytheville being a hub in the Mexican Ice epidemic, or any other drug for that matter. We the people will no longer tolerate our businesses being terrorized or robbed at gunpoint.
We the people are tired of rhetoric, spin, campaign promises and general overall bull. We the people have decided to take our city back and we will do it with or without those in charge at the moment!
Also Chief Thompson, I call upon you to submit your future department budgets with the number of officers that you need in order to accomplish the job. If the city council or mayor wants that number cut, then make them cut it…ON THE RECORD so that they will have to explain how they can declare that we need more officers for the Public Safety Tax election and then say we need to cut them out (there were 58 officers in 2004) when talking about the city budget. Stand your ground.
Lastly, this tax was very difficult for a lot of us to swallow. City leaders heed this warning – do not cut one dime of money that was previously going into the department from general funds or the previously passed so-called “police and fire tax”. The new Public Safety Tax is to supplement what was already there.
We the people love and appreciate our police officers, but we are not blind or stupid and we are maxed out on our taxes and patience. We the people own this city and we demand a change. So, we the people will be watching.