Report: Grand Island's violent crime rate is up 133 percent since 2015
GRAND ISLAND, Neb. —
The Grand Island Police Department is dealing with less manpower and higher violent crime rates. Violent crime rates have increased by 133 percent over 2015.
Violent crimes include, but are not limited to: homicide, rape, assault, etc.
Robert Falldorf, Grand Island Police Chief, said with less man power and less money in their budget, it's causing them to become a reactive department rather than a proactive one.
"We knew going into last year the plan was to balance the city budget," Falldorf said.
Two of nine officers were laid off due to budget cuts, while the others were either injured or retired.
"Working with nine officers throughout 2017 that had some impact. Now, granted we are going to hire some of those officers back– some of those have already been hired back already. But it takes a year for us to hire and train an officer," Falldorf said.
Mayor Jeremy Jensen said the money is simply just not there.
"The truth is, is I would love to add 15 or 20 additional officers to be on the streets today, the difficulty is paying for it," Jensen said.
The police department, fire department, library, water parks, etc. are all paid for through the general fund.
The annual report also shows property crime rate is up nearly 12 percent since 2016.
Falldorf said they've had less time to spend thinking of strategic ways to lower crime rates.
But how did the city get in this position?
"No additional revenue and wage adjustments really put us in what I would consider–big time trouble," Jensen said.
The city can't just take allocated money from another area and use it to help offset the shortfall of the general fund, but it can use money from the general fund to help in other areas of the city.
Therefore, the only way to get more money in the general fund is to create more revenue.
The mayor is hoping a half–cent sales tax - similar to the tax the city of Hastings has - will bring in revenue that could potentially help this issue.
"I think it's absolutely something that's critically important. Taking a look at it, we need it for infrastructure purposes and if we can do that, I think we can offset some of the general fund dollars that have to go over to help cover some of those things," Jensen said.
Jensen hopes to get the half–cent sales tax on the ballot in November.
GIPD did however do well in clearance rate, solving over 66 percent of its crimes, which is above the national average.