Jan’s Take on Public Safety

I believe public safety is critical for a livable city. I am proud to have chaired the Salem budget committee last year, in which we added two additional police officers to the downtown beat after so many cutbacks to staff during the recession. Even with the added officers, there are still times when downtown has no police presence. We need to add back xx officers to reach the staffing levels we had before the 2008 recession.

As you know, a new police station has been front page news. I am pleased that the O'Brien site can easily be acquired without relocating private residences or tearing down historic homes. I recently took the initiative to request a tour of the current police facility, which was built in 1972 when Salem’s population was about half of today’s population. I was astounded at the cramped quarters for officers and staff, lack of storage for evidence, and the lack of space for locker rooms, interview rooms, and holding cells. The existing space is clearly insufficient for officers and staff to efficiently and effectively serve Salem citizens.

Public officials must be prudent in their expenditure of public funds. In my opinion, this does not necessarily mean aiming for the lowest possible acquisition cost. Other factors to take into consideration are life cycle cost (maintenance, lost opportunity cost, etc.) and eventual replacement cost. I want to ensure transparency as the city takes next steps.