The police officers of Winchester received good news regarding their safety on Tuesday, June 21, as the Winchester City Council moved to accept a grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance and provide matching funds for the purchase of new bullet-resistant vests for the officers.
The Bureau offered the city a grant in the amount of $8,380 over two years. The total price of the vests is $16,760. The city will pay the difference out of its yearly budget, citing in its resolution the priority the city gives to the safety of its citizens and employees.
Council was provided with the report of Chief Kevin Sanzenbacher on last year’s criminal activity in the city. The report was generally positive, citing five year lows in all Part I crimes except grand larceny and a five year low in calls for service. However, despite the drop in overall crime, the number of adults arrested is at a five year high.
The issuance of traffic citations are at their highest point since 2007. The report cited the opening of the Timbrook Youth Reporting Center, 80% of employees passing their first fitness assessment, and an enhancement in less than lethal capability for officers as successes in 2010. Officer retention and better IT operations were cited as areas for improvement in 2011.
“Winchester is in better shape than it has been in a long time,” said Councilman Milt McCinturff when asked for his thoughts on the criminal report.
He cited economic growth as the main reason for the improvement.
Council also received a presentation pertaining to the Old Town Development Board and the investments the city has made. Some of the members voiced concern that the city might lose money in the long-run. Chairmen of the OTDB, David Smith, told the members the city should not lose money.
“I see the city breaking even or making a profit,” said Smith to the members.
He cited the revenues generated from parking, alcohol sales, and vendors at the many events being planned and cited the Movies on the Mall event as “a great success”.
In terms of planning future events, Smith spoke of a variety of events meant to target a broad demographic, such as country music concerts and hip hop exercise programs for younger people. The members seemed particularly concerned with this variety.
“A lot more detail needs to go into this,” Councilman Art Major told Smith.
Councilman Tagnesi recommended looking at a range of more diverse ethnic events, such as Italian festivals. Smith expressed his desire to do so, citing hopes for Latino and African American events as well.
Councilman McInturff asked if the board had reached out to other cities to study their methods in similar endeavors. Smith said that “quite a bit of research” had gone into the planning, and described studying the methods of another city whose development succeeded greatly.
Despite the concerns, Council seemed fairly optimistic and supportive of the board and its actions.
“Council is behind this,” said Counsel President Jeffrey Buettner.
Council also discussed slight changes to the city code deaing with procedure and the role of the City Attorney.