Meeting with the Mayor:  Advisory Board for Public Safety

Mayor Kirk Crespin

 

 

From time to time, Lamar Mayor, Kirk Crespin and The Prowers Journal will get together to discuss and review developments of interest to Lamar residents and the surrounding community.  The hope is, the better informed a community is on matters that pertain to them, the more involved they can become with their local municipal government and stay abreast of matters that potentially impact their lives.

The Lamar City Council has laid the groundwork for the creation of an Advisory Board for Public Safety for the City of Lamar.  Approved this past May, the board will have five members who will serve staggered four-year terms and meet on average once every three months.

Mayor Crespin is urging Lamar residents to consider applying for membership to the board.  “This was a pet project I’ve considered since I became mayor.  Former City Administrator, Steve Kil, had been affiliated with boards of this nature in the past and we considered it a good move to create one for Lamar.”  He added, “One of the largest challenges for the community is that we don’t have checks and balances for the police, fire and ambulance departments and Steve and I wanted to be sure that the board would not be created to micro-manage them, but serve as an oversight group.  This will provide strength and backing from an independent community that’s going to oversee what they’re doing to validate and ensure the departments are doing a good job and operating by the book, remaining compliant and planning for the future..working forwards for their goals for our public safety.”

Mayor Crespin wanted to be explicit in the mission of the Public Safety Board, “There’s the misconception the council created the board to beat those departments over the head and that is not the case.  We want to strengthen them, not create a grievance group.  We’ll have some genuine critiques to some extent, but we’ve had people from the community make allegations of, ‘corruption in the department’ and there’s ‘this and that’ and, ‘no one listens’ and the board will a provide residents with a path to follow and to be able to voice their criticisms and meet with the board that’s providing direct oversight to these three essential departments in the city.”

Crespin said he is wondering why there haven’t been more applications to the board by this point.  “I’d like to make an appeal to the public to consider what they want for the community and help foster a means by which they can help and find out more about the way their community works by becoming a member of the Public Safety Board.”

The mayor and this reporter discussed one reason for a low response as that residents, thinking that by becoming a member of the board, may become subject in some fashion to a review of how they handle themselves on the board or become subject to the public urging them to represent a third-party who may have an axe to grind against a department, but won’t speak up for themselves.  Crespin said the board members can act as a voice for the departments, explaining to the public what is transpiring in each of them and keep the community updated on developments or events.  He said any recommendations from the board will be non-binding, but of an advisory nature, perhaps adding insight on budgetary items, “It’s not a position that will put a member under a microscope or where you will be responsible for any governing actions.”

He added that some people may be content just being critical or observant through typing in a message on social media and going no further than that without having to make a genuine commitment to help improve the community.  “How do you get people from changing from complaining and issuing a grievance to creating ideas, solutions and actions that benefit the community.  We can spend all day griping but having an actual group that can make a decision that can bring about resolutions is something we need that offers a more positive approach.”

He said, regarding responsibility on any board, “Rarely has a board or commission made a recommendation to the council that shows up on our meeting agendas that is not taken seriously or acted upon.  I don’t think the council has ever rejected out-of-hand, any of those recommendations for a direction to take or for a personal appointment to a board.”

To become a member, a candidate must be a registered voter in the City of Lamar, have a basic understanding of how the police, fire and ambulance departments operate and go through a standard background check and understand their application will be reviewed by the council.  Crespin explained that the interviews for the creation of the board, “Initially, once the department head has reviewed the application, it goes to the city council for consideration and we will make a final decision.  That will change once the board has been created as it will go through the department heads and the city administrator and then through the Public Safety Board before a recommendation is made to the council for approval.”  He added these checks and balances will be to find people who have a genuine concern for the community.  He expects that with all the applications submitted, it will take several months before the board is fully established and has its first meeting.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of LamarConsumer IssuesFeaturedPoliticsPublic Safety

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