Put jobs first, not police

To the Editor:

On April 8, the Sentinel reported that the Fairmont Police Department is seeking additional officers in the next budget.

Fairmont is similar to St. Peter. However, St. Peter is growing and Fairmont is declining in population. Per Wikipedia, the census estimates that through 2012, Fairmont has declined another 203 persons from the 2010 census, to 10,643 people. The census estimates that through 2012, St. Peter has grown another 231 persons from the 2010 census, to 11,427 people. Yet, while St. Peter has 14 officers, Fairmont already has 15.

Per the 2010 census: Fairmont has 21.4 percent under the age of 18; 56.4 percent age, 18-64; 22.2 percent age, 65 and over. St. Peter has 19.4 percent under the age of 18; 69 percent age, 18-64; and 11.6 percent age, 65 and over.

St. Peter’s 18-64 age group is 13 percentage points higher than Fairmont, yet they have one less officer. Hardly a bunch of rabble rousers, Fairmont’s 65 and over age group is twice that of St. Peter’s, yet we already have one more officer than St. Peter.

So, if we look at Fairmont’s population estimate through 2012 of 10,643 and determine 56.4 percent of it, we come up with 5,901 in the 18-64 age group that might most frequently require police attention or response. Even if we round up to 6,000, that would be 2.5 officers per 1,000 persons, not the 1.39 per 1,000 persons put forth in the city’s budget planning meeting.

I urge the City Council to look at demographics and our declining population trend in their response to the police department’s request for the next budget, not just at raw gross numbers. Any dollars considered should be put into doing whatever it takes to bring more quality jobs to Fairmont, not more police.

Craig Nelson