When the Bartonville town survey stated that 55% of the town (not 55% of the town, but 55% of returned surveys where citizen participation was so low, the survey could be deemed invalid) wanted a smaller police department, we listened. This poll expressed a desire to reduce the percent of budget expended on the police force (the survey question wasn’t clear if reduction was in budget, number of officer, or number of cars)
Wanting to hear more, we hosted a town forum regarding the police department. This audience spoke in favor of (overwhelmingly in favor of) 24×7 police coverage, which would require several more officers, something that cannot be achieved within the current budget (but the road budget has increased significantly) This left us in a quandary as to how to meet the needs of all citizens – reducing cost while increasing police coverage to 24×7 (note: some citizens expressed they were actually willing to accept a tax increase for 24/7 police presence). As a result, we (Scherer and one other councilman, without the approval of the full council) began to investigate options. One option was to meet with Double Oak and brainstorm the possibility and mutual benefits of combining (eliminating BPD and contracting with Double Oak for police service) operations. A joint venture (inter-local agreement would serve same purpose, preserving BPD) would save money and provide additional protection for both towns. Double Oak is currently 24×7, and desires to expand their force to allow relief officers, a need that they can’t quite meet today. ??As stated, Bartonville would need to hire to allow for 24×7 coverage. With a combined force, 11 officers (a combination team of the existing 7 Double Oak officers and the 4 Bartonville officers (hiring four officers that may, or may not be the Bartonville officers), both towns keep costs low and meet the needs of their citizens with a local force (Double Oak PD, not Bartonville PD) to provide both towns 24×7 coverage, within budget, and with proper relief officers for both towns. ??These preliminary discussions were shared with the town at town council (a brief mention with no details was shared with 40 people at a council meeting and not told to the 1600 plus citizens of Bartonville) were also mentioned at “Meet the Candidate.” Additionally, the current Bartonville Chief of Police, Dave Howell, has jointly attended and participated with most (only one, the last) of the meetings with Double Oak. ??When discussions began (after the meetings were concluded), I met with all the Bartonville police officers to assure them that these were preliminary discussions and that the combined force would include 4 additional full time officers – the same number as is on the Bartonville Police Department (Bartonville has 4 full time, 1 part time and 1 reserve). The officers understood the value of a combined force and that they would have opportunities (all Bartonville officers would lose their jobs and would have to apply to Double Oak just like any newly hired employee with no guarantee of getting hired) on the potential combined force (there is no combining only closing BPD and contracting for services. It would be Double Oak officers policing Bartonville) I am a retired Army (reserve) officer who has worked numerous disaster relief efforts and the son of a retired police officer. I understand and respect the value of our peace officers (I ‘m willing to close our PD and contract with another town for services and if it doesn’t work we can start our PD back up at a huge expense to the Town not to mention what happens to current officers and covered (briefly discussed in closed session) in future council sessions (after the election) as we evaluate the request for 24×7 coverage against budget priorities their families) ??The option of a combined force and other options will be (roads). I am not in favor of raising taxes and believe we can meet our needs with unique solutions (tried and failed by many other entities) If you believe in open (slick) communications and respectful (questionable) dialog, a person committed to finding the right solutions (change for the sake of change) for our town, I would appreciate your vote.?