Montrose, CO — The City of Montrose has received applications from 20 residents seeking to serve on the Public Safety Citizen Advisory Committee to begin work next year identifying critical needs of the Montrose Police Department. The City Council will vote to appoint 18 applicants to the committee at their next regular meeting on December 18th.
The voluntary board — whose community membership is appointed by the City Council — is tasked with studying Montrose Police Department operations and determining if needs can be addressed within the city's general fund or through new revenue sources.
At a Monday work session, councilors agreed to appoint members to the committee and asked city staff to prepare a list of facilitators to help oversee the committee through the process.
Councilors have agreed to prepare a list of 18 finalists and vote December 18th during an opening meeting scheduled for 6 p.m.
Each councilor will separately review applications for the committee, and prepare a list of 18 finalists. Councilors will then deliver their lists to the city clerk who will tally the lists prior to the meeting on the 18th. The 18 applicants with the highest number of votes will be appointed to the committee. The two applicants with the fewest number of votes will not be appointed.
Earlier this year a group of concerned citizens representing the Montrose Regional Crime Stoppers brought data to the council that supports their belief that police services in the city are greatly understaffed and underfunded.
In September councilors unanimously approved a resolution creating the Public Safety Citizen Advisory Committee, (PSCAC), to evaluate and recommend potential funding initiatives for the Montrose Police Department.
Currently, the police department has about 13 fewer officers than Durango, a city with a population smaller than Montrose.
During the summer a proposed Public Safety Sales Tax, (PSST) was discussed at the time as a possible way to increase the number of sworn officers in Montrose and upgrade the Police Department's headquarters at 434 South First Street. In July, the council’s consensus was to delay any tax initiative until more research was completed.
On Monday councilors determined that PSCAC members would be required to go through an abbreviated form of the Citizen's Police Academy beginning in January. The thirteen-week course, now in its 22nd year, will begin on January 7th. PSCAC members will be required to attend a shorter course due to the amount of time required and the fact that some of the applicants have already taken the course.
Councilors said the academy was a good opportunity for PSCAC members to gain information, identify staffing trends, and get caught up on the department's budget.
"All the people on the committee will be hearing the same thing,” Councilor Judy Ann Files said.
Montrose Police Chief Blaine Hall and City Manager Bill Bell will determine the length and frequency of the abbreviated academy.
Bell said city staff would gather a list of facilitators for the council to review in February at the earliest because the council only meets once in January due to the New Year holiday.
Bell said the city would issue a request for proposal, or RFP, to find interested facilitators.
Mayor Pro-Tem David Bowman said it should be up to the council to appoint a facilitator, not the city manager's office, to avoid any possible negative public perception.
"We should take the responsibility and it does not go through staff," Bowman said. "The facilitator needs to go through council."
Bell and Hall agreed that while the PSCAC is doing its work, city staff will deeply analyze the police department to better understand staffing trends at other departments the size of Montrose, to help and possibly spot inefficiencies in the department's operations.
"We haven’t done thorough studies," Bell said. "We need to analyze that stuff. What works in the big city of Denver, does not work in Montrose."
These studies of department operations could be then presented to the PSCAC for their consideration.
City Councilor Barbara Bynum said the committee wasn't just created to strictly push for sales tax funding, but as a way to find fundraising alternatives. Bynum said having this process will help with the public debate as to expectations of the police department from "a committee that represents a lot of different voices."
"What we are really saying is; what kind of police department does our citizenry want," Bynum said.
According to the September resolution, the PSCAC will be tasked with providing written recommendations to the council and delivering their findings in person at work sessions and regular City Council meetings.
Any recommendations will be approved by majority vote of the committee before being presented to the council.
"If the committee determines that a tax initiative is necessary to provide additional funding for the Montrose Police Department, what method at what rate would be appropriate to provide for both current and future needs of the department," the September resolution states.
The PSCAC will be subject to open meetings laws and will be required to publicly notice their meetings and hold them in a public setting.
For more city news visit: CityOfMontrose.org.