Minuscule sales tax hike will go a long way to making us safer

The Mesa County Sheriff’s Office and the 21st Judicial District Attorney’s Office are two of many components of our public safety system in Mesa County.

The sheriff’s office is somewhat unique in that we provide law enforcement services to a diverse population with dramatically different needs. In the Clifton, Fruitvale, Orchard Mesa, and Redlands areas we provide municipal like law enforcement services to very densely populated areas while in the Mack, Loma, Glade Park, Whitewater, Gateway, and Mesa areas we provide services to a rural population with very different needs.

In addition to the law enforcement services for all these communities, we staff and operate the Mesa County Detention Facility where all arrested people, regardless of which agency made the arrest, are housed. The number of incarcerated people has continued to rise each year as we continue to focus our efforts on getting dangerous people off the streets.

The 21st Judicial District Attorney’s Office is responsible for the prosecution of all cases filed with them from law enforcement agencies in Mesa County where a person is alleged to have violated state law. This can include simple traffic violations to cases as complex and time consuming as rapes and murders.

Both of our offices work very hard to provide the best possible service to this community each and every day, but are struggling to keep up with the demand for services coupled with reduced funding.

Over a 10-year period when violent crime in Mesa County has increased by 500 percent, both the Sheriff’s Office and the DA’s office have endured budget cuts and loss of staffing.

Between 2009 and 2012, the Sheriff’s Office alone was forced to cut $3.5 million from its budget. Specialized units which proactively targeted high risk areas, offenders and criminal activity were shut down, reassigned, or are constantly pulled away in favor of reactively responding to crime which has already occurred. The DA’s office has seen a 70 percent increase in felony cases being filed, drastically outpacing the 10 percent increase in staffing they were given to address the problem.

Because we continue to fall behind in our ability to provide the best possible service, proactively target the individuals responsible for crime, and work to address growing areas of criminal activity, we are asking the voters of Mesa County to join us in approving what is necessary to begin to reverse this negative trend. Merely showing up after our residents have been victimized and documenting how a crime occurred is not what this community deserves. We should expect a public safety system that is proactive in anticipating and addressing issues and can dedicate the staff and time to work harder for victims and actually deter crime.

Issue 1A will increase the county sales tax by .37 percent. That is only 37 cents on a $100 purchase, and less than $3 per month for the average Mesa County family. But those dollars will go a long way to making us all safer and help local law enforcement take back our streets.

As the leaders you elected to serve and protect you in these difficult times, we assure you that we are asking only for what we believe to be necessary to do the job right, and commit to having it result in meaningful change in the safety and security of this community. This will not be more of the same. These funds will lead to proactive, targeted enforcement, partnering with other community groups and resources to solve problems and reduce crime.

Rarely a day goes by when we aren’t seeing or reading about serious crimes taking place in this community. It is vital to support this public safety tax in order to allow our offices to continue to serve the residents of Mesa County effectively and to combat the ever-rising incidents of violence occurring in our community. We hope you will join us and vote yes on Issue 1A.

Matt Lewis is the elected sheriff of Mesa County and Dan Rubinstein is the elected 21st Judicial District Attorney charged with prosecuting crime in Mesa County.


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