Maplewood city council discusses Prop P spending

Maplewood City Council on Tuesday in a meeting scheduled to work on the city budget ended up discussing how to use its Proposition P funds — funds meant for public safety.

About 14 members of Maplewood Community Builders, a group pushing the city to use the funds for ‘community policing’ were there. The meeting was a work session so public comments weren’t permitted.

Maplewood will receive $400,000 from Prop P, and is planning — in the draft budget — to use $214,000 of that for items such as data terminals for patrol cars (10), portable radios (2), Sig Sauer duty pistols (2), vehicles (3) and body cameras (25).

The department also plans to hire two new officers with the funds. Council member Jennifer Schmidt asked Chief of Police Steve Kruse if there really was a need. “We’re busy, very busy,” Kruse said. “When someone calls the police they expect a prompt reply.”

He said it’s impossible to know when the demand might come, citing a 4 a.m. Christmas morning break-in at Brentwood Volvo.

Schmidt asked if it would be worthwhile to pay someone to analyze the need, and Kruse said he has been an officer for 40 years, including chief at Florissant before Maplewood, and he doesn’t need an analysis. He said calls for service are up and accidents are up.

City manager Marty Corcoran said if the officers were polled they would say the greatest need is more manpower. Mayor Bary Greenberg said more traffic enforcement is needed.

Training and mediation were talked about as possibilities, and several council members said a citizen advisory panel would be a good idea.

Greenberg said a panel would need to be integrated to coordinate with the police department to be the most useful.

The council will make the first vote on the budget at its July 24 meeting, where there will be a public hearing. The final vote will take place in the following meeting, in August.

Maplewood Chief of Police Steve Kruse and Lieutenant Matt Neighbor answer questions before Maplewood City Council on Tuesday. Council members Shawn Faulkingham and Jennifer Schmidt on the left. City Manager Marty Corcoran and assistant city manager, Anthony Traxler are in the foreground.

7 thoughts on “Maplewood city council discusses Prop P spending

  1. I attended this work session, and can tell you that the problem with the statement above is that the police were asked for statistics to back up their request for the hire of two additional officers (the cost of which is not reflected in the $214,000 figure cited in the article above), and they were unable to provide any. Chief Kruse’s response was “Ma’am, I’ve been in law enforcement for 40 years, and I know what we need.” This kind of “I know what’s up, don’t worry about it” answers are not acceptable explanations for spending at any level of government.
    Decisions need to be made based on data, and if those with access to the data are unable to provide that, then what should the next course of action be?

    • I totally agree, decisions must be made based on data and statistics. He should have been told then and there, that his answers were unacceptable. What do I think should be the next course of action — demand people do their jobs, from the top, down.

      The police chief’s boss needs to tell the chief to come in with the back up statistics within a certain timeline, period, no excuses. It’s about everyone’s accountability to the taxpayer…the chief, the chief’s boss, the council…

      It’s laughable to me that a police chief with 40 years experience would think ‘because I said so’ reasoning would fly…

        • I don’t doubt at all that they need more officers. The point we were discussing is confirming it with data, not questioning it’s validity. Whenever taxpayer money is spent is has to be justified so there can be no question of graft, fraud, waste, misuse, corruption, or favoritism to name a few reasons.

          It’s also so tax money can most effectively address needs. I’m sure a lot of worthy departments are vying for some of that money…what if the fire chief says we need more firemen – how could the council decide between policemen and firemen – evidence and information.

  2. Having worked in accounting for many years, I like Jennifer Schmidt’s question about whether someone should be paid to analyze things. I wouldn’t suppose an outside consultant would be needed, however. Surely, the police already keep data as to number of calls, types of calls, length of service calls, severity of calls, # of man-hours, # of officers employed, amount of officer pay, etc. I would expect that data is used as a basis for council decisions, not polls, guesses at needs, or personal desires. Often, gathered data is most helpful in sound decision-making. Who is the accountant for the city, and does Maplewood’s accountant keep the records for the police department?

    • I agree with everything you said, Patty. Maplewood has good people in house, so they should trust their people. They are the ones doing the work every day. They know what they need and what they don’t. They have the stats to back up their requests. To pay someone else to come in and evaluate this information, would take a big chunk out of that $400,000, and I think, it would be a relinquishment of the Council’s responsibility. It is the Council’s function to make these decisions, not to hand them off to someone unfamiliar with the city. To me, paying a consultant in this instance is just another layer of bureaucracy that is a waste of time and money that could both be better spent.

      • I have long wondered about the use of consultants for things like this. It would seem to me that there is a record of how many arrests, how many traffic tickets, how many investigations there are in this town on a daily, monthly and yearly basis. Oh wait, it is published in the Maplewood news letter so it already exists.

        Then they should be able to take some of those numbers and say you have 10 officers trying to take care of 500 items a week. That is too many cases for that many officers. We need more officers. Just like nurses and other professions each person can only average so many jobs a day at a time and be effective. It seems they should be able to figure it out without an expensive consultant.

        My other thought is what if they kept the number of officers at the same amount but offered overtime. That is often cheaper than putting another person on the payroll especially when you add in all the additional benefits for another person.