Before I outline my plans for improving public safety, let me say that I am proud of the job our police and fire personnel do in keeping the city safe. I believe we have some of the best men and women working in those organizations you can find anywhere. They not only respond when we call for help, but they also stepped up when the city faced the financial crisis brought on by the 2008 recession. They accepted cutbacks in man power and made equipment like police cruisers, fire trucks and squads last longer in order to help the city get through the crisis without compromising public safety and welfare. As a result, crime is no worse in Lancaster today than it is in any other city our size and our fire and EMS response times are better than most. But I do not want our city to be like others our size. I want it to be better.
I believe that 99% of us do not want vandalism and crime. I also believe that most of us are disappointed by what we perceive as increased criminal activity in our city. Like many of you, I can remember when living in Lancaster meant you did not have to lock your doors at night and that you could go out for a walk with your family without seeing a blighted or abandoned home or fearing that your children would witness drug related activity on a nearby street corner.
For these reasons and more, I will make public safety one of my top priorities. As our city grows and we bring new jobs in, I will work with City Council to find ways to funnel new revenues into public safety personnel and equipment. I will keep the Street Crime Reduction and Apprehension Program (SCRAP), the D.A.R.E program, and the Major Crimes Unit active during my tenure as mayor. My administration will support efforts by the City Attorney and Police and Fire Chiefs to apply for grants like the Violence Against Women Act and the Safe Routes to Schools program, among others, as a means of supplementing money available for public safety. And, I will encourage local businesses to support our fire and police departments through fund raisers and donations of needed equipment.
I will work to make our neighborhoods safer by continuing support for block watch programs and by launching several new initiatives. Foremost among those initiatives will be the strengthening of Lancaster’s Code Enforcement Division and more aggressive enforcement of the city’s building codes.
I will also explore ways to bring a successful program from Columbus in which the police department and code enforcement division work with landlords to get them to enforce provisions in their leases that prohibit illegal activity on the property and require the property and its appearance to be maintained.
I will also fight the growing drug problem. First, I will strengthen the police department’s ability to combat the drug problem and work with neighborhood watch groups and landlords to identify and close down the drug houses. Second, I will work to bring new jobs to Lancaster so that those who may be inclined to sell or use drugs will have productive alternatives. And third, I will promote effective treatment programs as a way to help those who have become addicted thereby reducing the demand for illegal drugs.
Experience has shown that you cannot move a city forward until its citizens feel safe. I plan to get Lancaster moving and making public safety a priority is just one of the ways I will do so. To read more about my vision and approach to achieving greatness, click here.
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If you would like to comment on my vision, please leave a reply in the space below. I am anxious for your feedback because I believe we must all work together to make this vision reality. However, I do reserve the right to remove or edit profane or other comments that contribute nothing to moving Lancaster forward.