Letter to the Editor: Downey Police support raising sales tax

Dear Editor:
The Downey Police Officers, Police Management and Public Safety Auxiliary Associations would like to provide our perspective to the half-cent sales tax debate.
In 2010, the Downey Police Department had 124 sworn police officers. Because of budget constraints, caused primarily by the most recent recession, that number has dwindled to 111.  Of the 44 municipal police agencies in Los Angeles County, Downey ranks near the bottom with regard to officers per 1,000 residents.
For the past several years, our representatives have met with City officials concerning ways to generate additional funding to add more officers. Unfortunately, none of the potential revenue streams, including the tax generated from future business development, would create enough annual revenue to sufficiently fund additional officers, equipment, and an upgraded radio system (which would give us the necessary ability to communicate with our officers in the event they have to leave the City, as well as with other public safety agencies in the event of an emergency).
After much thought and discussion with our members, we’ve come to the decision to support the half-cent sales tax increase. This decision does not come lightly, and we appreciate the different points of view on this topic. However, to provide the quality of police service to our ever growing community that you expect and deserve from our members, increased funding is needed to add the additional police officers, non-sworn support personnel and updated safety equipment necessary for us to do so.
Our members priority is to make sure our residents are safe, and it’s our professional and honest opinion that to do so, additional officers are required on the street to be proactive in their enforcement efforts, and not simply reactive to the dangers and criminal activity they face daily.  Unfortunately, laws such as AB109 and Prop 47, which continue to release thousands of criminals back to the streets of Los Angeles County, make our members jobs much more difficult, and it puts an additional strain on local police departments to monitor these individuals.
We are confident in the safeguards that are being proposed, such as a clearly defined citizen’s oversight committee, that the half-cent sales tax revenue will be spent appropriately and on its intended purpose. We would not put our credibility on the line if we didn’t feel the half-cent sales tax increase wasn’t absolutely necessary. Our members are asking for your help and support.
We look forward to speaking with you about the challenges facing our City in today’s law enforcement environment. After careful consideration, we believe the benefits of a half-cent sales tax increase to our City, and the continued quality of life that it would provide our residents, far outweigh any negative impact.
Downey Police Officers Association
Downey Police Management Association
Downey Public Safety Auxiliary Association