Police and fire officials discuss possible cuts in public safety

By Lauren Payne - bio | email feedback

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - "There is a finite point when you're talking about criminal activity and demand for service.  There is a point that if you get behind the 8 ball--you stay there," said Jonesboro Police Department Chief, Mike Yates.

Yates says regardless of how this proposed half cent sales tax vote turns out,  they will continue work to avoid that.  Yates says it's a challenge made that much greater if the tax fails and deep cuts are make in public safety.

"It will be core operations only," said Yates.

Yates says if cuts were made to public safety, residents would immediately notice among other things, layoffs at the police department,  school resource officers  taken out of schools, disbanding the PROWL unit and putting those officers back on patrol. Noticeable changes now, but he adds long term implications could be far worse.

"If we're forced to make those drastic cuts, it will definitely lower our ISO rating to class 4 and it may even lower it to a class 5," said Jonesboro Fire Department Chief, Leonard Jadrich.

Jadrich says right now Jonesboro is at a class 3, and going any higher may mean hitting residents where it hurts the most, but it may be unavoidable if deep cuts are made.

"Your insurance rates are going to go up anywhere from 15 to 30 percent depending on where we actually fall within the ISO," said Jadrich.

Jadrich says he could lose as many as 27 firefighters, and be forced to shut down two ladder trucks, and may even have to close an existing fire station if cuts to public safety are made.

"It's going to affect our response time, it's going to affect how many firefighters we can get at the fire scene which is going to affect our ability to put out the fire quicker," said Jadrich.

Jadrich and Yates say now it's time to educate voters about the facts of this proposed half cent sales tax and why the city is asking for it.

"It is a humble request with our hat in our hands, but it's important.   People need to have the facts, know what the decision means, but it's their decision," said Yates.

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