In March of 2012, I conducted a comparative study between our city and two nearby cities of roughly the same population. The cities used for comparison were Marion and Centralia. The findings were very interesting.
At that time, Mt. Vernon reported having 42 police officers. By contrast, Marion reported having 30 officers, and Centralia had 22 officers.
The study also revealed that our city had more fire fighters than either of the other two municipalities. Mt Vernon reported 29 firemen. Marion and Centralia reported 25 and 19, respectively.
The study should tell all of us something. We should at least question the need for so many public safety officers. First we must ask if crime
rates or incidents of fire are greater for Mt. Vernon. If there is no need, then we should reduce the personnel in the police and fire departments as a way of reducing pension costs for future years.
Now I am not suggesting that we lay-off any policemen of fire fighters.
I am suggesting that we reduce the number of personnel through attrition. Doing it this way, nobody loses their job, and the city reduces their financial obligations over the long haul.
Regardless, the city council and city manager should not tell us that they
have no control of this matter. I don’t buy it!
Jere T. Shaw