Norwalk City Council on Tuesday continued the process of putting a tax replacement levy on the November ballot. The levy would maintain the same millage but update the property valuation from mid-1970s rates to today’s.
The additional revenue for the Norwalk Police Department (NPD) would be used for a staffing increase, capital funding and training.
Specifically, the police department is looking to add one patrol officer. That would bring the roster to 25 full-timers, which is the authorized level per the city’s charter and ordinances but still shy of the standard number for the U.S. cities the size of Norwalk.
Statistics credited to the U.S. Department of Justice reveal there is a ratio of two full-time officers for every 1,000 residents in cities that have population sizes between 10,000 and 24,000. Norwalk’s population is 16,838, so its police department is nine full-time officers short of that staffing standard.
The current 0.9-mill police levy, first approved in 1976, generates $69,952 yearly.
If put on the ballot and approved, the cost for the owner of a $100,000 home would increase from $5.24 to $31.50, bringing in $238,615 yearly for the police department — an annual increase of $168,731.
About $105,000 of that additional revenue would be used for the new officer.
Another $50,000 would go toward planned capital funding. Projects listed in the department’s five-year financial forecast include seven cruiser leases, station and jail maintenance and communications upgrade for the dispatchers.
The police department also seeks to improve training, earmarking the remaining $14,000 of additional funding for that. Currently, NPD spends about $14,500 per year to educate the staff on various matters, including defensive tactics, drug recognition and active shooter response.
The acting chief stressed the need for better training in “essential things” such as the “use of force.”
“All these things you want to be effective at because you don’t want to go above and beyond what you’re supposed to be doing and have that liability and violate people’s rights,” Interim Police Chief Mike Conney said. “If you don’t train, you have a greater chance of that happening.”
“In my heart, I think Norwalk is a safe place, not by accident of course,” Conney added. “We’ve been proactive, but not as proactive as we need to be.”
Council president Steve Euton said he supports the proposed levy replacement, adding an increase in funding is needed for the continued protection of city residents.