By Mayor Al Litman
I don’t know if I said it publicly before, but I have never liked Monday morning quarterbacking. You know, shoulda, woulda, coulda. My philosophy, if you can call it that, is to be proactive before situations arrive.
It this case, it’s about how quickly our population is growing, but many of our services are not. The state tells us we are now at 24,971 full-time residents.
Our population is also growing a bit older as you can see by the growth of our over 55 communities in Mesquite. It’s a fact that an older population requires more medical and emergency services.
The rapidly growing call logs of our fire and police calls will show you just that. We, as a city, have not caught up with the demand for these services.
To put it bluntly, we need to budget for more EMTs, paramedics, and firemen and women, and then, aggressively recruit them. This is not an easy task, as they are in high demand most everywhere.
We cannot count on Beaver Dam, or other departments outside of Mesquite as they are also busy much of the time.
In 2007, we had 15,600 residents, and more police then we have now. We had 26 firemen, and only 24 current. In order to remain one of the safest cities in the state, we also need to be proactive and budget accordingly to bring our police and fire force up to or above what is the minimum recommended number of staff.
COVID-19 showed us how understaffed we are. We must not allow this in the future. It’s best to be prepared for the uncertainties that could occur. Again, it’s best to be proactive, not reactive.
Police calls have gone through the roof in recent years as crime is rising most everywhere, there are more cars on the streets, and the criminal element who watches carefully sense places that are vulnerable.
Our location on the I-15 corridor poses many problems that won’t go away.
Movement of drugs and stolen vehicles will continue if criminals think they can get away with these and other crimes.
Fortunately our officers do an excellent job of apprehension, but with the police calls going up steadily every year, they can only be in so many places with the number of officers we have.
I’m not telling you all of this just to cry the blues or because I love our fire and police forces, but because it’s reality. I want all of us to feel safe 24 hours a day because we are proactive and really care about the welfare of our residents and guests.
Our situation is not unique to Mesquite. It’s becoming harder to recruit young men and women for first responder positions.
We need to be proactive and start the process early. We are in competition with many other places for the same positions. And, by the way, we want the best in police and fire recruits for Mesquite.
Al Litman is mayor of the city of Mesquite.