By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(April 5, 2018) Talks during the first day of budget workshops for the fiscal 2019 budget in Snow Hill last Tuesday pivoted to school and community safety concerns.
Police Chief Tom Davis said his office is about $25,000 under budget during the current fiscal year and his request for fiscal 2019 would be about $24,642 less.
He said his budget proposal included a new police vehicle, emergency lights for Ford Tahoes and $1,200 for a handheld radar gun.
“As of right now, we have one working radar unit that is owned privately by one of our officers,” he said.
Davis also asked for $3,600 for “stop sticks” for each police vehicle.
“The stop sticks are for pursuits and we had one recently … [during] a chase coming up from Pocomoke that was over 100 miles an hour,” he said. “He obviously had to be stopped – there was no just letting him go, because he was going to kill somebody.”
He said an officer successful deployed the sticks, flattening tires and stopping the car.
“You don’t need them until you need them … but they saved lives that day,” Davis said.
Also requested was $3,854 for three promotions, $2,000 for overtime, $3,000 for uniforms, $20,000 for gas, $1,080 for new smart weapons to replace Tasers, and $2,000 for several new shotguns.
Mayor Charlie Dorman said one thing missing from the request were long rifles.
“In light of what’s going on in all of the schools … my personal opinion is I think police officers should have them now,” Dorman said. “It’s like going to a gunfight with a knife. If you don’t have that weapon that matches the person that’s trying to kill these young people, it’s pretty tough.
“In this unfortunate time in our history, your offices should be trained and that should be part of your equipment that you need to have to protect our people in this town, especially the children in the schools,” he added.
Davis agreed and said the accuracy of a pistol is only about 33-35 percent during an active shooter situation. He said accuracy greatly increases with a scoped riffle.
“Either mass casualty or active shootings are truly at an unbelievably number,” Davis said. “Last year it was 327 mass shootings in this country [and] there have been just hundreds upon hundreds of active shooter situations.
“It’s not only schools, it’s businesses, business parks, stores, government buildings – they are literally happening all over the country,” he added. “It can happen anywhere. It will happen anywhere. Whether it happens right here, we can’t predict that, but I think it’s our job to be ready.”
Asked if they would support funding for the rifles, all three Snow Hill Councilwomen said, “I think we have to.”
Councilwoman Jenny Hall also asked Davis to increase the police budget for community outreach, originally $1,000.
“We’re asking you to do more, so it’s going to take you more,” she said.