The Burleson City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to add three full-time officers to the city’s police department.
Police Chief Tom Cowan requested that the council amend the 2012-13 budget to add $91,348 to fund the three new positions.
“We don’t want to become a victim of our own success,” Cowan told the council, citing Burleson’s 10 percent population growth since 2009 as the primary reason for needing to add to the police force. Earlier in the meeting, Cowan presented statistical data showing that as the population has increased by 10 percent over the last four years, the number of service calls to the police department has, in the same time period, increased by 15 percent.
The percentage of crimes per capita, Cowan said, has remained roughly the same since 2009. But he attributed that to the fact that he had reassigned three traffic officers and one community policing officer to patrol duty, and to officers working overtime to make up for the shortage in staffing.
Cowan said that having to reassign the traffic officers to patrol had resulted in “a decrease in traffic violations enforcement and an increase in crashes.”
Mayor Ken Shetter noted that the city made “a major investment in public safety” that included “good strategic and tactical decisions” as well as increased funding, and that the investment had paid off. But, he added, in recent years, “policing has had to take a back burner” while the city focused on other needs, including buying a new vehicle for the fire department and building a new fire station.
“Now,” Shetter said, “we’re at the point where ... our ability to remain committed to those tactical and strategic decisions we made and that are beginning to pay dividends is beginning to be compromised because of the growth in the city that has lead to increase in the demand in terms of calls for service.