Shootings in Decatur have tripled in two years. Decatur Police Officers need our support.
The city of Decatur is facing a shooting epidemic. In the first six months of 2021, there have been 80 reported shootings in Decatur. By comparison between January - June 2019, there were 26 shootings. The number of shootings YTD in 2021 is 33% greater than 2020 and in 2020 there was over a doubling of shootings compared to 2019. The citizens of Decatur and the Decatur City Council can both play a role in reducing shootings in the short-term and lowering crime in the long-term.
The next city council meeting will take place on Monday, July 19 at 5:30 PM. In addition to 13 agenda items including additional action on the Brush College Rd. over Faries Parkway Grade Separation project, and possible annexation of property on the southwest corner of Mound Rd. and Brush College Rd. for a new industrial distribution / warehouse facility, citizens can make public comments at the beginning of the meeting. One topic council members would benefit from hearing your voice on is the need to reduce gun violence and the importance of providing funding to make it happen.
AMERICAN RESCURE PLAN FUNDING SHOULD BE USED TO SUPPORT FIRST RESPONDERS AND THEIR DEPARTMENTS
The city of Decatur will receive $33.8 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding over the next two years. Of the $16.9 million the city has received this year, approximately $4 million is allocated for general fund revenue replacement and essentially can be spent as appropriated by the city council (other portions of the funding is more restricted but could be used to fund public safety initiatives such as community violence intervention programs). Unequivocally, a large proportion of the $4 million should go to better protect public safety and health. For not only is the city experiencing a surge in violent crime, the number of calls for service the Decatur Fire Department has responded to this year is on pace to be the highest total on record.
Specifically, the city council could use ARP funds to recruit and retain police officers, increase the number of mental health crisis counselors to assist police officers, install additional neighborhood cameras and implement other camera technology, launch community violence intervention programs such as the recent Peace Summit hosted by the Salvation Army, and move forward with technological initiatives that increase citizen engagement and provide real-time data for decision making. In addition, the city can lower response times by expanding its traffic signal priority control system so that our firefighters and police officers can arrive on the scene as quickly as possible.
THE CITY OF DECATUR MUST MAKE INVESTIMENTS IN PROGRAMS THAT REDUCE CRIMINAL ACTIVITY IN THE LONG TERM
Even when the city of Decatur is successful in lowering violent crime in the short-term, it must still invest in programs that reduce the causes of criminal activity in the long term. It is investment in programs overseen by our Community and Economic Development Department such as youth employment programs that will resolve Decatur’s long-standing challenges. Simply put, the City of Decatur is not keeping pace with the rate of blight and some high-crime neighborhoods contain numerous delipidated, unsafe structures. Currently, there are 212 houses on the demolition list, YTD thru June 192 properties have been declared unfit for human habitation and 160 properties have been boarded up by the city. At a minimum, the city should also use ARP funds to demolish these dangerous eyesores that cannot be restored while establishing programs that prevent even more properties from falling into disrepair. At an average cost of $15,000 per demolition, there is an immediate need for $3.2 million.
CITY OF DECATUR’S BUDGET IS A REFLECTION OF ITS VALUES
It has often been said that an organization’s budget reflects its values. If this is the case in Decatur, the allocation of $16.9 million in ARP funding should focus on public safety, reducing crime, and improving our neighborhoods for the number one priority of our city must be public safety. Based on the allocation of ARP funding City Manager Wrighton proposed on June 21, the city will fall woefully short. It is time for citizens to express their support for our Decatur Police Officers and using funding to make our city safer.
PLEASE EXPRESS YOUR VIEWS AT CITY COUNCIL MEETINGS
Meetings take place at the Council Chambers located on the third floor of the Decatur Civic Center (1 Gary K. Anderson Place). Free parking is available in the lot immediately south of the entrance. Citizens are encouraged to attend meetings and express their views. Citizens are allotted 3 minutes per person near the beginning of each city council meeting. In addition, citizens can provide comments regarding one regular agenda item per meeting for up to three minutes provided they notify the city in advance (and prior to the start of the meeting). You can request to speak on a particular agenda item at a council meeting by filling out an on-line form at: https://www.decaturil.gov/mayor-and-council/advance-request-to-speak-at-council-meeting/.
CITIZENS ARE ENCOURAGED TO PROVIDE FEEDBACK TO CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS
If you would like to discuss city issues with a council member, phone numbers and email addresses for each council member can be found at the following link: https://www.decaturil.gov/mayor-and-council/council/.
AGENDAS FOR CITY COUNCIL MEETINGS ARE AVAILABLE ONLINE
An agenda and information about each agenda item for each city council meeting can be found at: https://www.decaturil.gov/mayor-and-council/council-meetings/.