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Beaufort residents have expressed concern about the City Council cutting the Police Department budget, especially in light of the unusual number of big crimes reported in recent weeks. I assure residents that the City Council has not cut the police department. Its budget is larger that it was last year, and it has received and continues to receive special attention from the city manager and the City Council.'
Like the city's other department heads, Chief Jeff Dowling didn't get everything he asked for. You have read about the Segway Transporter. These requested items were capital requests, not staffing levels, personnel costs or operations. '
That is not to say all is well, however. Our police department is operating with eight fewer sworn officers than the authorized 47. An officer is on light duty, and two officers are attending the state Criminal Justice Academy. Even with this shortage our police department has been able to deliver quality services. But the empty positions -- that are fully funded -- must be filled soon. '
I will recommend a number of changes in budget at our next meeting, and two will be to add $25,000 to the police budget for recruitment/retention and add another $40,000 to pay for security cameras to be installed in the Bay Street area. These recommendations will help us recruit qualified and experienced officers to fill the openings and help the department provide additional security for residents. '
Beaufort is blessed to have a great police force, and it is my commitment and the City Council's to do what's necessary to keep it that way. The public doesn't deserve less, and the City Council won't accept less.'
City Council member'