I currently serve as the chief of police for the Winslow Police Department. As the duly appointed agency head within the City of Winslow, I feel it is my duty to properly inform and educate citizens I serve on all matters that may impact positively or negatively, the public safety services provided to them.
According to state law, the county is responsible for jail inmates who are incarcerated for felonious acts. All misdemeanor acts a person is incarcerated for are the sole responsibility of the incorporated towns and cities. If a jail district tax were implemented by approval of the voters, then the cities and towns would not bear the burden of any incarceration costs.
In the calendar year 2018, the Winslow Police Department booked 202% more people into Navajo County Jail than in 2017. In 2019, we are currently on track to nearly double the amount of incarcerated individuals yet again. The results of incarceration for misdemeanor offenses have dramatically decreased our serious, felonious violent crime rates in Winslow in the course of just 18 months.
In 2018 the City of Winslow paid $114,512 in misdemeanor jail fees to Navajo County. In 2018, we paid Navajo County $176,529. At the end of 2019, it is estimated we will have paid in excess of $240,000 in combined jail booking, housing and medical fees. This is a high cost to the citizens of the City of Winslow, given that the majority of arrested individuals are not residents on the city.
Navajo County has proposed a cost starting in fiscal year 2019-2020 which will increase jail fees to the City of Winslow nearly triple of what our residents paid for jail fees in 2017. This cost makes it difficult to operate without sacrificing public safety needs. Booking less people in jail would keep costs lower, yet reverse the substantial progress made in increasing public safety of our city over the last several months.
By lowering our crime rates in the City of Winslow, something which is occurring now, our residents save money overall by lowering homeowner and automobile insurance rates. A safer community also yields higher property values. Additionally, more businesses and residents are likely to establish themselves in a city which has lower overall crime rates according to the Uniform Crime Reporting Program.
By paying more money to Navajo County to operate the the jail system, Winslow would be forced to use funding currently being used for other vital services.
When considering a YES or NO vote for the jail district tax, I respectfully request the voters consider alternatives and evaluate the impact your vote may have on current public safety services in your community.