We want to share this column by Battle Ground Police Lieutenant Mike Fort that appeared in the January 12 edition of The Columbian:
A lot of information has been shared about the upcoming vote to annex the City of Battle Ground to Clark County Fire District 3. The reason annexation is being considered is to protect quality emergency services for our community. It’s important to remember that emergency services include police as well as fire/EMS.
Our police officers are working very hard to deliver services the community expects, but we simply don’t have enough officers to do everything. Most people would be surprised to know that in 2009, we had 27 sworn officers serving 17,150 people. In 2019, we have 24 officers serving 21,520 people. That is 11 percent fewer officers serving 25 percent more citizens over this 10-year span. Those staffing cuts mean less service for our citizens. We want to do better.
Traffic safety is the number one issue we hear about on our police tip line. However, we just do not have enough patrol officers to consistently respond to traffic issues other than injury accidents and DUIs. With annexation, we would have the resources to build an actual Traffic Unit for more patrols, better education and enforcement.
We also do not have the staffing to adequately investigate non-violent crimes. This is unfortunate because most people expect the police to address those livability issues like narcotics activity, identity theft, vandalism, and property theft. Annexation would provide the revenue to investigate and solve these crimes, and provide the service citizens expect.
Annexation will also help us improve community outreach programs such as National Night Out, Coffee with a Cop, and Police Activities League programs for youth in our city. We could also create a citizens advisory group that provides regular input to the Chief of Police so that the community has an opportunity to voice collective concerns about issues in our city. With staffing increases, we could also bring back our K-9 unit, which is popular with community members.
Battle Ground police officers want to the opportunity to better serve our citizens through traffic safety and enforcement, increased criminal investigations for non-violent crimes, and more engagement with the community, especially our youth. Annexation will help make that happen. Please learn more about the proposal by visiting the city’s website at www.cityofbg.org.
Lieutenant Mike Fort
Learn more about the proposed annexation to Fire District 3 and how it affects police and other city services at www.cityofbg.org/470/Fire-Emergency-Medical-Services. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me, City Manager Erin Erdman at 360-342-5005 or email@example.com. Thank you.