By Manny Ramirez
The fundamental responsibility of government is to preserve and protect constitutional rights and to provide for the safety of its citizens. Public safety should never be a political issue. It is not a Republican issue or a Democrat issue. It is a critical component of a prosperous society. On July 14, the citizens of Fort Worth have an opportunity to show their support for law and order in our city by voting FOR proposition A, to renew the Crime Control and Prevention District (CCPD).
Since the inception of the CCPD in 1995, violent crime in Fort Worth has dropped nearly 63%, while the population has increased by 93%. There is a direct correlation between reductions in crime and the resources that are put toward that effort. CCPD funding comes from a half-cent sales tax that is expressly designated for crime control and prevention in our city.
You can be proud that your Fort Worth Police Department is already operating as one of the most fiscally conservative police agencies in the nation. Fort Worth is the 13th largest city in America, with an annual police budget of $267 million supplemented by an estimated $80 million from CCPD revenue – a total of $347 million, which translates to $387 per capita. This allocation to policing services is 23% below the average of the top 20 cities in the nation (average $497 per capita.)
Not only is the FWPD a leader in conservative spending, but Fort Worth has also been a leader in “best practice” policing for decades beginning with our CCPD community policing model instituted in the 1990s.
The CCPD budget is set annually by the Fort Worth City Council and provides a unique opportunity for our citizens to have direct input on the programs that their tax dollars fund. The 2020 budget includes critical programs that link our community and our police department. These programs include Neighborhood Patrol Officers, School Resource Unit, Code Blue Program, Clergy and Police Alliance, Ministers Against Crime, Police Athletic League, and Gang Prevention Unit. The CCPD also funds vital equipment, including all in-car video camera systems, non-lethal weapons, and body cameras.
Recent protests spurred by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis have led to calls to “defund” police departments and this effort has in turn fueled a campaign to defeat and defund the Crime Control and Prevention District.
Our police officers are troubled by this, not for their own sake, but for the sake of our most vulnerable communities, which would be severely impacted by this defunding movement. Even officers not working protests have operated shorthanded in patrol while trying to protect our city from a violent crime wave that includes a 66.7% year-to-date increase in the murder rate.
Eliminating the CCPD would not provide an opportunity to reallocate money from police to other programs; it would strip the city of its ability to collect the revenue at all, meaning $80 million would disappear, severely crippling the ability of the Fort Worth Police Department to combat crime.
Fort Worth has always been and will always be a special place. We are a city of remarkable character, one that can rise above the noise of the outside world and come together to solve tough problems. The citizens of Fort Worth deserve a safe, equitable, thriving city in which we can all be proud to raise our families. Ending the CCPD would make that goal all the more difficult to achieve.
Manny Ramirez is president of the Fort Worth Police Officers Association. He holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Texas Christian University.