By Bob Niffen
The City of Blue Springs is looking to add six new full-time officers to its staff of 100 existing officers on staff. The City of Lake Lotawana and the City of Blue Springs are discussing a proposal that would have the Blue Springs police force expand and help cover all policing needs throughout the city limits of Lake Lotawana.
Deputy Chief Robert Muenz moderated an informational session held at the Blue Springs Public Safety building last night. This proposal would allow the City of Blue Springs to take over policing services within the city limits of Lake Lotawana. This proposed contract would last over a period of three years and will be subject to review at the end of each year. Both cities will have the opportunity to end the agreement but must provide a 180-day written notice to dissolve the contract.
Funding for this proposal was the main topic of discussion and where the money would come from to provide coverage, officers, and equipment required to run efficiently. Deputy Chief Muenz stated that the City of Lake Lotawana will cover all costs associated, paying an estimated $600,000 to $700,000 a year, over the three-year contract. That amount paid by the City of Lake Lotawana would roughly be $633,000 for the first year, $656,000 for the second year, and $679,000 in the third year.
The money received for these services is looked at as a “break even operation and not a money-making effort,” Deputy Chief Robert Munez said. “The City of Blue Springs finance department will keep track of expenditures.”
“The money paid to the City of Blue Springs would cover all policing including patrol, traffic accidents/investigation, traffic enforcement, criminal investigation, crime prevention.” Muenz said.
“Anything that policing services entails that we provide in the City of Blue Springs, we will provide in the same quality and same fashion in the City of Lake Lotawana if this proposed agreement is approved.”
More interesting is what is not covered in this proposal. Any extra services including animal control and any additional coverages needed for Lake Lotawana’s yearly 4th of July Celebration will be billed to the City of Lake Lotawana. Also, if an officer is to appear in court and if there are special needs required, these additional costs will be discussed prior to finalization of the contract.
The one service that will not be provided will be all private lake issues that may occur on the lake itself. This will remain the same under the current home owner associations that are in place. This will cover all minor infractions including boat DUIs on the lake and other minor offenses. The only time officers will respond is if there is a major crime that takes place.
What will happen to the existing staff of four police officers for the City of Lake Lotawana? “The Lake Lotawana Police Department will be dismantled. They will be given the opportunity to interview with our department,” said Muenz. He went on to say that he has received applications from the four existing officers who are on staff.
If this proposal does go through, Blue Springs laws and Lake Lotawana laws will remain the same and will require officers to carry two different ordinance books, one for each city. All officers will be cross trained to work either city when required. All fines that need to be paid will be paid in the city where the infraction occurred.
In the proposed agreement, all officers would be housed out of the Blue Springs Police Department. As part of the proposal, redistricting would be done to help keep response times to a minimum as the City of Blue Springs hopes that the response time for emergency services would not degrade but remain the same as they currently are in Blue Springs. If passed, the City of Blue Springs will begin services on April 1, 2017 but is subject to change based on timing of the approval of the agreement.
The Lake Lotawana Board of Aldermen Work Session which is scheduled for February 7th at 7:00 p.m. will be held at the United Methodist Church located at Gate 1.