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My proposed budget for 2019 is nearly ready for public review and comment and adoption by the City Council. Over the past several weeks I’ve been providing highlights of the programs that are included in my budget. The initiatives that I’ve shared with you include: Support for affordable housing, expedited phase-out of B & O Tax, and programs that ensure that Bremerton is beautiful.
This week I am delighted to show you what I’m doing to make sure that our community is safe – we’ll be adding new firefighters, doing proactive policing through bicycle patrols, and pairing behavioral health experts with police officers to ensure that community members with mental health challenges are treated appropriately.
Next year we will be adding three new firefighter positions. These positions will allow us to increase our staffing on the City’s ladder truck which will dramatically increase our speed and efficiency in operations which will improve our emergency situation rescue times. These new staff members will each be Firefighter/EMTs and will be cross-trained for fire boat operations for water related emergencies. These new firefighters will be increasing the safety to the citizens and firefighters of our community.
We’ll be continuing with the City’s police bicycle patrols next year. This method of policing is adaptable to a wide variety of functions and roles and is very cost effective for the City versus adding more officers in squad cars. This team has excelled at fighting street crimes and drug interdiction. These officers have been highly visible in our community and we’ve found that the public finds them very approachable which means more public access and opportunities for positive interaction with law enforcement. I had the honor of being able to ride along with this crew earlier this month, you can learn more about the program by watching the video here.
In 2019 we’ll be continuing the City’s partnership with the Behavioral Health Outreach Program that pairs behavioral health “Navigators” with our police officers. Navigators can respond with officers to calls involving individuals whose behavior is affected by mental illness, developmental disability, and/or substance use. Their function is to offer support to individuals with behavioral health disorders and connect them to the treatment and services that they need. The program has two central aims: 1) Reduce the pressure on law enforcement to handle behavioral health related calls, and 2) Reduce the likelihood of people with behavioral health issues having future police involvement. I believe that this program is an excellent resource for our officers and our community.
If you have any comments about these programs, please call or email me at: 360-473-5266 or Greg.Wheeler@ci.bremerton.wa.us.
Mayor, City of Bremerton