At the Feb. 14 meeting of the East St. Louis City Council, funding for five more police officers was approved. That brings the total number of officers to 49.
While this is movement in the right direction, this remains woefully short of the 99 recommended by Steve Wigginton, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois on Aug. 6, 2012.
Despite this dated advice, on Feb. 28, 2013, it was indicated there was a plan to increase the police force to 75 over the next five years.
In addition, there are plans to lay off 18 or so firemen, which would bring us down to 28 despite the fact we are supposed to have 56 for a city of our size and type.
By not having enough firemen, property insurance rates will go up for the second time in less than two years.
At the same time, we are spending $2.5 million of CDBG funds to rehabilitate 12 structures and build four more at a cost of more than $156,000.00 per unit.
Tax Increment Finance (T.I.F.) accounts have more than $11 million that is being used to develop pretty pictures that no one will ever come here to see, if they are ever built, for fear of life and limb because public safety is so strategically and tragically underfunded.
Please call City Council at (618) 482-6670 to demand a Budget Amendment that achieves the immediate hiring of 50 additional full-time police officers and 28 additional firemen.
Editor's Note: Hawkins is president of the Civic Alliance of East St. Louis