La Marque proposition sparks concern among some

April 30, 2012 5:13:20 PM PDT
A proposition in La Marque has some worried there will be fewer police officers on the streets. But that city's elected officials say that won't be the case and the worries are unfounded. The proposition specifically deals with the number of officers for the department.

Currently, the city charter of La Marque requires a minimum of 25 officers on the payroll. But a new proposition aims to drop that requirement and some feel it's a move to eventually reduce the numbers of officers in La Marque.

Early voting for La Marque''s May 12 election is underway, but the sign gaining the most attention in front of City Hall is that of Proposition 21.

"It's absolutely just a public safety issue," La Marque Police Association President Forrest Gandy said.

"To me, that's just a scare tactic and it bothers me," La Marque Councilwoman Connie Trube said.

Prop 21 would do away with a city ordinance, requiring a minimum of 25 officers on staff at the police department. The amendment was added in 1998 to silence a movement to disband the police department and contract with the sheriff's office.

And the concern is voting yes for Prop 21 would be the first step for the movement to resurface.

"Absolutely yea, and that's why it's such a big concern for us. Because it's important to keep adequate police staffing for our own safety but most importantly for the safety of citizens," Gandy said.

Trube says there has been no talk of reducing officers and approves of Proposition 21. She says it simply allows the council flexibility.

"The thing about voting yes would be, in case La Marque's population would drop 5,000 or 10,000, that would still require citizens to have 25 police officers and that could be a huge burden on the budget and the tax base," Trube said.

Prop 21 was added to the ballot by a charter review committee; its members appointed are by council.

Committee members claims it's simply a house-cleaning measure to remove an outdated amendment from the city charter.

"I don't think it's ever dangerous to put anything before the voters. We are of the people, by the people, for the people. They have the final say. And people are smart, they know what to do," La Marque Mayor Bobby Hawking said.

Currently, 29 officers are on staff, which Gandy says is still below state recommendations. Early voting began Monday, with the election day taking place May 12.


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