The University City City Council Monday approved the funding of four additional police officers for the University City Police Department. Resolution 2012-12 allocates funding for the salaries and benefits of four new officers.
The resolution reads as follows:
Whereas, City Council of University City deems it necessary to improve public safety by adding four additional police officers.
Now, therefore, be it resolved by the City Council of the City of University City, as follows:
1. Increase police officer staff by four.
2. Allocate $260,000 from the General Reserve account to fund the additional staffing.
Before the vote, Rep. Rory Ellinger spoke in favor of the measure, citing crime studies from New York City on the value of a visable police presence.
"We can afford to do it and we should," he said.
The measure was not without question. Mayor Shelley Welsch said that while she believed the safety of the public was the number one job of elected officials, she wished to see more staff input on Councilman Byron Price's resolution.
She asked that it be turned over to City Manager Lehman Walker and Police Chief Charles Adams for review before the vote.
"Chief Adams requested the funding he deemed necessary to run his department," she said. "None of us are professional law enforcement and don't have expertise in this area."
Price said the issue was "too important to play games" and asked for an immediate vote.
The council voted 6-1 to approve the resolution. Councilman Michael Glickert voted against the measure.
Glickert had asked for clarification about the actual number of new officers to be hired since the city's 2013 budget called for the hiring of three new officers. He asked whether this resolution added four more officers, bringing new hires to seven, or whether this was one more officer over what had already been planned.
"This is four additional officers," Price said. "Let's get the police department back to full staff. There are three in the plans. Get those three and add these four. We need to have pro-active policing."
Crime statistics overall in University City show a drop in most crime categories in 2012, but there has been an increase in murders. There have been four murders this year in the city, up from previous years.
*Editor's Note: According to the University City Police Department, here have been four homicides in University City in 2012, not five as previously reported. We regret the error.