WASTE WATCH: Fighting Crime on a budget

Updated: Monday, February 3 2014, 07:19 PM CST
WASTE WATCH: Fighting Crime on a budget story image
Keeping you safe doesn't come cheap and government cost cutting can make it harder to fight crime.

But in Pensacola ---police are putting your money to good use -- and crime is going down, not up.
Smarter public safety
Keeping citizens safe is a top priority for cities, counties and states across the country.

That can be a challenge when belts tighten and government budgets shrink.

So how can your tax dollars do more?
Safety is a priority.  We all crave it.
We want to live where we feel safe.   Where law enforcement is protecting us. 

John Murray/Pensacola resident
"That gives us a little bit of peace of mind that they're actually out here and looking out for us."

Pensacola Police Chief Chip Simmons is always looking for ways to be more efficient without sacrificing services.

Chief Chip Simmons/Pensacola Police
"It all starts with the safety of our citizens. And a lot of times that begins with street-level type enforcement."

It's paying off.   A 14 % reduction in crime last year, violent crime down 18 %.

Cassie Metzger/Pensacola resident
"It feels very safe, so hearing the statistics makes me feel even better about it."
The success comes even as PPD's budget remains relatively flat.
That means Chief Simmons is finding ways to stretch the money like a 25,000 dollar federal grant to help pay for overtime costs...

"You don't want to continue to grow your budget. If you find a way that you can get the biggest bang for your buck, and then have these extra dollars come and supplement that, I think that's being good stewards with the city taxpayer money. And I think that's putting as many officers as we can on the street to really make a difference."

Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan knows the struggle to meet the demand for public safety.
His department looks for grant opportunities and works to dispel misconceptions like the belief that more traffic tickets mean more deputies.

Sheriff David Morgan/Escambia County
"We can't use that money to hire deputies. It goes back to a state law enforcement training fund, and actually only about three dollars of every traffic citation goes back towards law enforcement."

One shining example of how local law enforcement is becoming more cooperative --and more efficient-- is the regional gun crimes task force -- a team of local, state and federal agencies...

Getting guns off our streets by pooling information and resources...

Chief Chip Simmons/Pensacola Police
"We have this tremendous pool of resources that comes to every single gun crime, and before we had this response team that wasn't possible."

Sheriff David Morgan/Escambia County
"Tremendous relationship with our federal agencies here. You know the bureau, the ATF, the DEA. And when we work joint operations with them, many times they'll pay the officers overtime which is a way we can, again, get more bang for our buck."

The Pensacola Police Department is a good example of how tax dollars used efficiently can benefit the citizens.   But when the crime rate goes down.   Sometimes the budgets will to.   And it can be tough to maintain the level of service.

It's certainly a situation to keep an eye on and we will.
With your Waste Watch report, I'm Will Kennedy.

If you have an idea for a Waste Watch report visit weartv.com and click on Waste Watch to tell us about it.     

WASTE WATCH: Fighting Crime on a budget
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