Improve image, listening tour attendees advise

Maintaining good reputation key to approval of safety facility, some say

Grand Junction public-safety workers need to work on their image before citizens will vote for better facilities for those employees.

That was the sentiment of at least three of the 20 people who attended the city’s listening tour meeting Thursday at Redlands Community Center. The meeting was the fifth and final stop on the tour, which was designed to give citizens a chance to tell city officials what they think of current public-safety buildings, whether new facilities should be built, and how to pay for any changes.

Police officers talked about the 2008 public-safety-complex proposal at farmers markets. But talk at festivals isn’t worth as much as behavior on the beat, according to resident Larry Dixon.

“When we see a lot of different activities (from officers) that appear to be above the law, it hurts,” Dixon said.

Thursday’s meeting coincided with the Police Department’s news conference announcing that three police officers were fired for slashing tents and bicycle tires in a homeless camp. Since the 2008 election, the Police Department also had an officer resign after being arrested on suspicion of domestic abuse (he was later cleared of all charges), and it fired an officer suspected of rape.

Resident Glen Miller said police officers aren’t the only ones with a reputation problem. He said a neighbor told him an ambulance ride for the neighbor’s wife recently took more than twice as long as it should have given the time of day, 2 a.m.

“The city’s reputation has suffered by a whole series of little dings,” Miller said.

Some meeting attendees came to the city’s defense, saying the police and fire stations downtown need to be replaced. Some said it should be done on a frugal budget. Resident Richard Schoenradt said the city should build only what it can afford at this time.

“Everybody’s hurting. The city should realize it and hurt along with us,” he said.

Others said cost isn’t as important as planning for the future or creating something workable.

“We need to guard against this idea that everything has to be done at the minimum,” resident Wayne Westerson said.

The city’s next step is a telephone town hall at 7 p.m. June 22. Land lines around the city will be auto-dialed for the town hall. People can choose to participate by staying on the line, and their questions will be placed in a queue for city officials to answer.


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