To the Editor:
If you made a list of all the things Greenwich can and should be, nickel-and-diming emergency services should not be one of them.
I’m a Democratic member of the Board of Estimate and Taxation who is running for re-election this November. This past spring, as we were voting on the budget, the Republican chairman unexpectedly moved to eliminate funding for an innocuous-sounding police maintenance system.
“Was the chief of police consulted about this cut?” I asked. No, he wasn’t. It was a good thing I was able to reach him. He explained that the equipment is a vital electronic link between state, town and 911 computers that our town needs to replace, because what he had was “no longer reliable.”
The police chief was never consulted – no one bothered to inform him that BET Republicans were about to defund a key piece of police tech until a BET Democrat consulted with him moments before the vote took place. Once the chief weighed in, the ill-advised cut was dropped.
So I nearly fell off my chair when I saw a recent post by the Greenwich Republican Party accusing Greenwich Democratic candidates of being “anti-police, pro-criminal.”
What’s more, this was not the only time that BET Republicans refused to fund — using their tie-breaking vote — what our police department requested. For the second year in a row, BET Republicans cut $20,000 for police audio visual equipment. The equipment is 13 years old. It is used frequently by police departments for mandatory training. On top of that the BET Republicans, again using their tie-breaking vote, eliminated $45,000 that the police department requested to replace Truck 98, an integral part of the police mobile command system used for emergency operations.
And it’s not just our police that BET Republicans voted to defund. Our firefighters have been asking for years to replace a quarter century old pumper truck. The lead time for a new truck is 3-4 years. For a second year in a row, Republicans used their tie-breaking vote to deny this important piece of equipment to our first responders.
Our police and firefighters need more than lip service and patriotic slogans. And the residents of Greenwich deserve to live in a town where they can rely on functioning emergency services. Because a terrible incident doesn’t need to become the worst day of someone’s life. We deserve better.
Please vote for all six Democrats for the BET this November to ensure that our first responders have what they need to keep us safe.