Editorial: Do A.L. city leaders care about police staffing?Published 11:14am Monday, July 23, 2012
Now that the Albert Lea Police Department has taken away two police officers, the Albert Lea City Council is making the police chief the public safety director for good, not just temporarily.
That means the department loses another sworn officer, or at least half of one. This time it is to the needs of the Albert Lea Fire Department.
Saturday was an especially busy night for public safety, and it provides a prime example of why the City Council should question the city manager and the city staff on continued cuts to the Police Department. People of the city are concerned about this issue.
Sure, it’s easy to point the finger at the state for its cuts to support of local government. We agree with that finger pointing. But blame gets us nowhere toward addressing the problem, which is: If Albert Lea wishes to remain a safe place to reside, it needs police officers.
You’ve probably heard the broken-windows theory in law enforcement. It goes something like this: If a community lets little crimes like breaking windows go unaddressed, it eventually leads to worse crimes. Instead of focusing on just big crimes, police departments can keep the peace by caring about all crimes.
But that means a department keeps appropriate staffing to be able to address crimes big and small.
In other words, we need police officers to keep Albert Lea a special place to raise a family.
The City Council meets tonight and most likely will promote the police chief, but we hope it doesn’t happen without a solid discussion about staffing levels in the department. We hope are city leaders actually care about this issue.