At our Tuesday April 6 regular meeting the Great Falls City Commission unanimously passed Resolution 10395 establishing the Great Falls Crime Task Force.
As I’ve spoken to many groups and individuals in the weeks since the concept was first raised at the commission goal setting session earlier this year I have found that there’s overwhelming public support for the formation of the task force and it’s goals and purpose which are laid out briefly in the first section of the resolution:
WHEREAS, the protection of life and property is amongst the highest priorities of the City of Great Falls; and
WHEREAS, the Great Falls City Commission is aware of mounting community concerns about the City’s increasing crime rates; and
WHEREAS, the City of Great Falls would like to empanel a Task Force to make
recommendations on how to more effectively address crime in Great Falls.
Here I would like to address two of the concerns I’ve heard about the task force.
First is the question of how much extra cost to Great Falls taxpayers will be incurred by putting together and conducting a crime task force. The answer is simple. None. Zero. Nada. Zilch.
SECTION 2: Members of the Task Force shall be recommended by the City Manager to the City Commission. The City Commission shall confirm the appointments. Task Force members shall receive no compensation. Expectations for attendance and conduct of individual members and the Task Force as a whole shall be the same as those for members of other committees appointed by the City Commission.
“Task Force members shall receive no compensation…” means exactly what it says. So, what about City employees time and City resources being used for conducting meetings?
The use of City resources for the task force is not an extra cost for two reasons.
- “…the protection of life and property is amongst the highest priorities of the City of Great Falls“. In other words, the very mission of government at every level is to protect the citizens. Any resources or personnel deployed to help achieve the core purpose of an organization is not an “extra cost”. It is the reason employees are paid and resources are acquired. Claiming that the task force is an unnecessary extra cost for the City is like saying beer is an unnecessary extra cost for an Irish pub, which is absurd.
- The City is operating under a budget which was approved last year. There will be no additional taxes of any kind for even one Great Falls resident because of the establishment of the task force. Not one dime. Not one penny.
“Claiming that the task force is an unnecessary extra cost for the City is like saying beer is an unnecessary extra cost for an Irish pub, which is absurd.”
Another concern that has come up is whether the public will have enough opportunity for input and whether ‘regular’ citizens will be adequately represented on the task force.
While I think it’s important that the Great Falls Crime Task Force members have some expertise and experience in our local criminal justice system, including law enforcement, courts, and corrections, I am also certain that the task force will include citizens from the community at large.
In addition, there will be abundant opportunity for the public to participate fully every step of the way. The task force will be holding public forums and the regular task force meetings will be totally transparent and open to public participation and comment.