To the editor:
During last week’s study session, Lawrence Police Chief Tarik Khatib submitted a memo to the City Commission, requesting several million dollars in funding for the Lawrence Police Department (LPD). This money would be in addition to the department’s proposed $14 million budget for FY 2012. The additional monies are proposed to fund staff positions, facility improvements and equipment purchases.
While some of the items listed in the memo may have merit, others warrant serious skepticism. Does the LPD really need an armored car and new submachine guns with platforms? Given the city’s current economic condition, this LPD request must be scrutinized by city commissioners and citizens alike.
I have suggested to city leaders that the LPD needs to engage the community in developing a strategic long-range plan to determine budgetary and departmental priorities. I continue to hope that our new chief will heed this call and solicit feedback and participation from taxpayers.
Unfortunately, the department’s history on accountability is not good. In 2005, a resource plan proposed for the LPD suggested that quantifiable performance measures to be tied to funding, to no avail. In 2010, the city auditor identified a number of potential performance audit topics, and suggested that the LPD’s administrative bureau be reviewed. Thus far, neither of these efforts toward accountability have been embraced by the City Commission.
I encourage Lawrencians to review the police department’s wish list and communicate their questions and concerns to both the chief and the City Commission.