Crest Hill 2009

At the October 19 City Council meeting there was quite a bit of discussion of the quality and cost of our police department during the public comments portion of the meeting.  It began with a citizen questioning the need for two Deputy Chiefs in Crest Hill when Joliet manages a much larger police force with only one.  While the resident definitely presented himself poorly through his combative attitude, his point was a valid one that deserved a better response.  The following citizens who addressed Council spoke well of the quality of the police force.  Alderman Oberlin and Mayor Soliman used these examples to show that the police department is headed in the right direction.  However this is not the right way to determine if the right moves are being made to improve the police force.  Quality and cost must be looked at together.

Too often we look at public services and desire only the best and do not care what it costs because we each only pay a small share of the cost.  There is also the other side that looks only at costs regardless of quality because they do not want to spend another cent on taxes.  In our personal lives we do not act these ways, we find a balance between cost and quality.  We seek the best value.  Sure the BMW would be a better quality car and a used Datsun would mean spending a lot less, but most of us find something in between that will not bankrupt us but will get us where we are going reliably.  Why can our elected officials and citizens not have this view more often?

A good example of this is the promotion of two Deputy Chiefs.  City officials pointed out that these were not new employees, but two Lieutenants who were promoted and that their old positions were vacated.  Of course, they were given pay raises because they were promoted.  What was not addressed was why they needed to be promoted.  What do they do that they could not do as Lieutenants?  What special abilities and skills did they gain the day that they were promoted that they did not have the day before?  Are they actually worth a cent more than they were previously?  These two officers are better off with new titles and larger paychecks, but how are the citizens of Crest Hill any better off than if we had given them new duties without new titles and raises?

The Mayor and City Council owe the citizens an explanation of the costs and results they are aiming for as they improve the police department.  How much are we planning to spend each of the next 5 years with raises, promotions, and new hires?  This extra cost will translate into how many additional hours of patrol time?  How many additional school visits?  What our our goals for response times?  What are our goals as far as crime rate reductions and successful investigations?  What are the results if the Chief and his officers do not meet these standards if and when our Council takes the responsibility to set them?  Do we just keep giving raises and continuing to employ them regardless of quality or do we make their employment and raises contingent on results?

If you want to see a higher quality police department without breaking the bank, you need to control costs.  The best way to control costs is to make sure that each dollar gets the best value.  It is not about spending as few dollars as possible, but spending each dollar as wisely as possible.  A City Council that spends wisely will get far better results than one that either spends lavishly for quality or cuts to the bone to limit taxes.


About The Angry Jolietan

Joliet,Will County

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