To the editor:
I applaud Jerry Harper’s call for a thorough, public review of police and security policies and strategies in Lawrence before we vote on increasing the sales tax to pay for a new headquarters building (Your turn, Aug. 20).
Given the projected geographic and population growth of Lawrence, does a single police facility anywhere meet our future needs? While I understand the police chief’s arguments for a single facility, would such a facility meet the needs of Lawrence 20 years from now? If Lawrence continues to grow to the west, and with the completion of K-10, to the south, will the proposed new facility best serve an expanding Lawrence? Doesn’t the proposed headquarters remove police from ready access to downtown Lawrence, East Lawrence, and southeast Lawrence?
I have not heard any discussion of how a single police headquarters better serves Lawrence than one with multiple substations. Why is the substation model employed by the fire department (including ambulances) not relevant here? As Lawrence has expanded, the fire department has wisely relocated substations to better protect and serve Lawrence residents. It seems to me that rather than a single police facility a more modest headquarters combined with police stations near downtown and East Lawrence as well as ones to the south and west would better serve everyone than a single facility distant from most of us.
What troubles me the most is that there is a rush to support a new headquarters without any public discussion of best police practices in comparable cities. Harper has raised those issues, and they remain unexplored and unanswered. Rather than campaigning for a new single facility, the City Commission should be doing due diligence in exploring the needs of Lawrence today and in the future and how best to provide for public safety