City establishes special panel to study crime

City Commissioners voted unanimously during their April 6 meeting to establish a special, temporary panel to study crime issues in the city.

Commissioner Rick Tryon suggested the panel during the commission’s January priority setting meeting and in the meantime, he and City Manager Greg Doyon have met with various law enforcement officials.

Those meetings, Tryon said, have been “very eye opening for me.”

Crime study committee on April 6 Commission agenda

The panel will consist of seven members, that will be recommended by the city manager and confirmed by the commission, and will be asked to make recommendations to the commission by September on actions they can take to address crime in the city.

The committee will be disbanded after those recommendations are submitted to the commission.

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According to the staff report, “a proposal could potentially include a safety levy to fund resources to deal with the issues.”

Since the city budget process is already underway and the commission typically adopts the budget in July and finalizes assessments and levies in August, funding might not be available for recommendations that come from the panel in the fall.

During the April 6 meeting, Tryon said he wondered if the committee could make priority recommendations for items that would include budget considerations by July 1. He also suggested that four members, or a quorum, be city employees to ensure attendance and participation.

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Commissioner Mary Moe said it would probably be May before people are appointed to the panel and to make major recommendations by July would only give them about a month to delve into complex issues related to crime.

Moe said she also would prefer that the majority of members not be city employees to ensure an outside perspective and avoid the public perception that there would be any “preordained conclusion” from the committee and have buy-in from the community.

She said she doesn’t think they’ll have a hard time getting community members with expertise to donate their time.

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Mayor Bob Kelly said that his preference would be to let Doyon determine the seven members and make his recommendation to the commission for their confirmation.

Doyon said that they’d also invite other community organizations to be a part of the conversation even and offer input, even if they aren’t on the panel, such as downtown business owners, the Chamber of Commerce and those who work with mental health.

In terms of the budget, Doyon said some of the issues and needs will be clearly identified, but the challenge will be in determining where the city can make the greatest impact. He said they may also be able to leverage money from the COVID relief funds for grants toward public safety items.