Todd Paris, Staff Writer and Salisbury Attorney
♦ It was announced today that there will be a series of council approved meetings scheduled at the Wallace Educational Forum in April. These meetings are chance for Mayor Alexander, Maggie Blackwell, and Brian Miller, the council incumbents, to “hug the problem,” pray, hold hands, and to show they are really, really concerned about Salisbury’s violence.
I hope Sheriff Auten will provide parking lot security for these meetings as the last city crime fighting meeting I attended resulted in participants vehicles (including Maggie Blackwell’s) being burgled in the parking lot.
This is made even all the more “interesting” after SPD Chief of Police Jerry Stokes declined to attend a privately organized anti-violence meeting this weekend and when asked why said, “No comment.”
Notice I used the word “interesting” and not “surprising” in the last paragraph. After observing and reporting on Salisbury City government for the past few years, it does not surprise me that only an officially sanctioned meeting, properly announced by a Salisbury City Press release, and properly structured with preset agenda items and their controls in place, would merit City “outreach.” There the community can feel involved and be properly led to the correct conclusions city staff wishes them to have, feel like part of the team and not vote for change during council elections this November. I doubt if there will be an opportunity for public comment. The local print media will of course, be very supportive.
While I am in favor of new ideas and any solutions that might work in the long term, there are immediate steps that will have a quick return on our investment. Step one is that council has to raise salaries at SPD across the board to get back to full staff and retain the officers we have. Step two is to get Salisbury Human Resources out of managing the SPD.
Step Three is that Council needs to find a way to plug the $6,700.00 per day Fibrant deficit so we can afford a fully staffed police department by selling it, shutting it down, or finding revenue to plug that gaping hole. All the community meetings in the world and any great ideas that are uncovered won’t help stop Salisbury’s exploding crime problem unless we fix the SPD first. Then we can have community meetings about long term solutions like financially supporting jobs for urban youth and funding tutoring and literacy programs which the City might then be able to afford.
Mayor Karen Alexander, Maggie Blackwell and Brian Miller need to do something “real and now” for SPD or it’s going to be a long hot summer and funerals.