In the previous installments of the updates on the state of the city that was provided in January, the common theme was the things that we were enjoying good success due to a lot of hard work by some great Leaders and Teams.
In the previous installments of the updates on the state of the city that was provided in January, the common theme was the things that we were enjoying good success due to a lot of hard work by some great Leaders and Teams. However, as is the case in most any sort of planned event or series of events, although good success occurs in some areas, just as important is the fact that there remain some areas where success is more elusive and thus much more directed effort will be required to make the same level of success.
When the Leadership Team met in December 2015 it was decided that two of the very important areas that we should focus on were Safety and Security of our Citizens as well as Economic Development. These two areas are a continuous challenge and true to form have continued to be the greatest challenges we have met as our Team works to make Las Animas the kind of place we all love and want to live in. First, let me discuss the challenges we face with the Safety and Security of our Citizens.
The subject of Safety and Security is a huge area to undertake as a focal area, but in all honesty it is quite possible the single all-encompassing focal area for quite a few organizations that are already doing a great job. The most obvious and visible groups that are dealing with the challenges in this area are the Law Enforcement, Fire Department, Ambulance and Health Care Teams. In each of these areas, their work goes largely unappreciated and unseen, especially if their results cannot be released to the public whom they serve. If a person commits a crime, is a victim of a crime, is injured or sick, or has a fire emergency, it is completely expected that the Teams will respond with the highest caliber of service, without consideration of anything except the situation the caller is involved in. Clearly, we are a community that is fortunate to have men and women who are willing to put their own lives "on hold" in the least sense, and in the greatest sense "at risk," to ensure that when the phone rings in dispatch that the caller can truly believe that their call will be answered and their safety and security will be protected.
What most people in the community know but perhaps tend to forget is that the majority of these Teams are providing their best service on a volunteer basis, or in the case of the Law Enforcement Teams with an overwhelmingly thinly spread team who is tasked with providing this same level of service to whomever may call from anywhere within the county. No matter how well these teams do their particular jobs, the most important thing to remember is that they are there to respond to an event that has developed into a situation that almost always could have been prevented or at worst cannot be changed by the Team who is responding in an immediate response. For example, if the Fire Department is responding to a home fire, the most important thing to focus on is saving the lives of the occupants, and there are things the occupants can do to prevent the fire or casualties such as fire alarms, proper building codes, and/or inspections before occupying a home or business. In the case of the Ambulance Team, there are a myriad of health prevention strategies that can be applied to ensure that if the call is made it is for something that prevention has failed or tragedy has struck. Finally, when the Law Enforcement Team has to be called for a situation, the prevention strategies are available to ensure again that their efforts can focus on the things that cannot be prevented or tragedy occurs. So with this in mind, the question becomes "what can we do as a city leadership team to help with these Teams and their efforts?"
When the City made the arrangements to support the Fire and Ambulance Departments they made a financial agreement to ensure that the community would be supported when the need came to call dispatch. Each of these Departments have oversight boards that ensure they are doing their best to provide the level of support the community deserves. When the City decided to contract with the Bent County Sheriff's Office in 2012, it made a similar agreement with the Department and it too has a group that has oversight to ensure it provides the services deserved. In all three departments, the reality is that the City has little or no oversight to the services provided, and thus the focus should be on the things that we can actually do to help the Teams do their best. In other words, the focus at the City level is on doing the things we can do to help prevent the preventable. In the case of Fires, there are steps everyone should be doing to make their home or business as safe as possible, and generally speaking there are codes and ordinances in place to guide this process. However, common sense is invaluable in this process as well. In the case of the Ambulance, we have to focus on doing our best to remove the things in our homes, businesses and personal lives that will cause us harm and that will be the focus by the City teams. The things that cause the most harm are readily identified and very seldom does something new show up that completely blindsides the Preventive Health community; unfortunately the truth is that we do the things that we know will harm us with a high level of vim and vigor, and then expect the health care community to save us from the very thing that we chose to do in the first place. In the case of law enforcement, the City will continue to work on the prevention processes that we all should be doing anyway, and doing our best to bolster the efforts of the Sheriff and Deputies who are limited in number and unlimited in the area which they must cover. Some of the things that each of us can do, and should do are the focus on Neighborhood Watch programs, building a volunteer police force, and educating the community on crime prevention processes we can all use. We have looked at the possibility of returning the Police Department to the city and it is completely irresponsible and financially unfeasible to do it at the level of service that we are currently contracted with the Sheriff to provide, therefore we will be focusing on the things we cannot afford to not be involved with in all three areas as well as others that the code and ordinances support.
In the next segment of this report we will be discussing economic development strategies that we are working on for the future and the accomplishments we have made in the last year.