As County Council-Person Calvin Ball stated at Tuesday's National Night Out, while we celebrate Howard County's high quality of life, we should recognize that public safety comes first. Without public safety, there is no quality of life. Safety itself, that security in our person and, yes, our things, is a principle consideration in whether we consider our surroundings a "good place to live".
Now listen to Chief McMahon talk about how that has improved over the last seven years:
In a community like ours, improving on success gets more difficult with each goal met. As you heard Chief McMahon mention, traffic fatalities have gone down by half. Looked at the other way, these statistics could increase exponentially with one bad accident. Nevertheless, the protection of life is improving in Howard County, due in great part to the focused efforts of our police, fire, and rescue services.
While Chief McMahon is rightly seen as the leader of the Police Department, it is important to also note all of the work police officers do on their own accord while out of uniform, led by HCPOA President Greg Der. With a starting police salary of $46,862, the unfortunate truth is that too many of our police cannot afford to live in the communities they protect. The HCPOA has undertaken efforts to create additional community bonds between our officers and the residents of Howard County.
Every year, the HCPOA uses its own funds to purchase livestock that will then be sold to local super-markets. The "profits" from this sale are then donated back to 4-H. It is an unheralded program providing outreach to Western Howard County. In addition to this, there are numerous community programs our officers are asked to participate in by the Police Department mentoring youth and providing a positive example in the community. Oftentimes, police officers are asked to participate without additional pay as a presumed responsibility of their position. And they do.
I wanted to write this post because when I heard Chief McMahon speak, I thought "I had no idea." I read the news every day (and drill down on things I don't think are being covered), but still miss out on the good news. The good news is that we are safer today than we were seven years ago. There are more of us walking around, living our lives, completely oblivious of the alternative.
Thank you to our police. Thank you to our fire department. And thank you to all first responders.
(Note: We're about one-third of the way filled up for our service event next Sunday. We only have room for 15 people, so please sign up! This will be a lot of fun and, as I mentioned yesterday -- BRUNCH!)
Have a great Thursday doing what you love!