Securing more funding for the department to allow for a full staff of officers. Added funding must be found through grants or investment that will allow for a new station for joint operations with the Fire Department. One method of cost control that would benefit both the Fire and Police Department is combining headquarters. This will allow both departments to operate in a unified space while reducing maintenance costs for multiple facilities and allow money to go to other needs.
Although Hagerstown currently meets the quota for the ratio of officers to citizens, it is not enough. Hagerstown needs the full compliment of 112 officers. We need more than 6 officers on the streets at a given time, no matter what we are told. A government should be flexible and willing to adapt to fight challenges as they arise. Currently, there is a crime and violence problem and part of the solution is a greater number of heroes.
With there being a major problem in the rise of crime in Hagerstown and the presence of more gangs, more drugs and more human trafficking of young girls, the time has come for a Hagerstown VICE Department. This task force will deal with the most violent and heinous crimes in the city. I believe in being tough on crime and protecting the innocent. With a Hagerstown VICE Department, we can focus and better coordinate our attack on the worst criminals in this community and aggressively work to lower the crime rate. On top of this, there will be an expectation of quarterly reports along with budget needs and proposals to track progress on how effectively we are dealing with the issue.
A government must be honest with itself as well as the community it serves. The first step in correcting a problem is admitting there is one. Currently there are too many violent crimes and far too many drug offenses for us to say that things aren't that bad or to say "We simply don't have an answer," as some in the city council have. When there is a problem, I will acknowledge it, discuss the action plan to fix it and get to work executing that plan.
One of the greatest concerns that I hear when I talk to all of you is the response time of our city police department. I do not place the blame for this on our department, they are doing everything they can to respond to all of the calls that they receive. However, it bares investigating what kind of logistical prolems exist that we can correct so that you do not have to wait more than 5 minutes before someone is there to assist you.
There is nothing more important to a leader than the safety of his or her people. Your life is precious and beyond the measure of money in value. Whether it is hiring more police officers, reforming our local needle program, improving the relationship between community and law enforcement or simply enforcing the laws in a tougher way, I have a responsibility to protect you.
I believe the heart of the problem is a lack of opportunity and a lack of hope among our people. For as long as Hagerstown has been a city, it has been an industrial community and now we find ourselves facing a changing reality. Maryland and the US economy is becoming more high tech and service related. That has left many of us without jobs, shrinking income and nowhere else to turn but addiction.
For Hagerstown there must be a way forward that will set our city as an example to the rest of the state. While we begin with understanding and everyone's story, there comes a point when local government must intervene. Bases loaded refers to our new policy of revival and legal action. For three overdoses, we will revive and treat as we have always done. However, on the fourth (when the bases are loaded), we must assign that individual to a mandatory treatment for their own good and the good of their families.
Unfortunately, the epidemic doesn't stop with the use of hard drugs. There are a number of comorbidities associated with the use of drugs like heroin. With the sharing of and unsanitary condition of needles, there has been a heavy rise n HIV among patients. We must be aware of and make treatment available for these conditions as well. It is critical to have a holistic understanding and approach in our efforts to combat all of the different factors contributing to the mortality of the victims of this crisis.
Once an ordered rehabilitation has been issued, the city will use one of its many unused or "blighted" properties such as the Nicodemus House or the Alms House (as examples) to house and treat patients undergoing rehabilitation. These sights will be heavily restricted to ensure the safety of those inside as well as the safety of those in the community. In addition to this, patients will be enrolled in programs that teach them trade skills and equip them for life beyond addiction so that they may immediately be more productive members of Hagerstown upon release.
Funding is often the most difficult part of addressing or fixing an issue like this. However, the state and federal governments have allocated significant funds for the epidemic and the grant writer for Hagerstown will be kept busy. In addition to this, it is expected that with increased business traffic as well as population growth, we will have a greater tax base from which to draw in order to fund this program.
Everyone has done a fantastic job of raising awareness to the issue and sharing horrifying statistics about the crisis with our community. Now is the time, however, to take tangible action to begin the long and rewarding road to recovery for thousands of our people. I look forward to Emily joining with us to continue the great work that has been set up for us to complete.
No government can operate effectively without all of its parts working together. That's why I am getting to know that council and doing what I can to foster relationships so that we can get to work and start taking action that will improve this city on our first day. Government and community is a team effort.
Having a transparent and open means of communication between the government and its community is essential. We will do a better job advertising and encouraging attendance at city forums. And it will be my suggestion that we allow for greater time and participation from citizens at such meetings so that we can give a voice and agency to everyone who wants it.
You have a say in your government, that's why we have elections. But accountability doesn't just happen every 4 years, it happens every single day when you send letters, make phone calls, show up to meetings, express excitement or anger over any number of policies that the mayor and council discuss throughout the course of 4 years. As I knock on doors, talk to everyday people in Hagerstown, they want to see their government more and I couldn't agree more.
One of the best things about a democracy is the ability of the common citizen to be able to have and present great ideas. I would love to have a designated time during public meetings so that anyone who has an idea about how to improve the city can share that and have a chance at being involved on the gorund level and taking part of the rebuilding of Hagerstown.
Local and city events are a large part of how we come together as citizens and forge a greater community. From the Fairgrounds to the Municipal Stadium to City Park, there are endless ways that we can bring each other together in small and large ways. Local sporting events between city departments, government staff chili cook-offs, food and clothing drives and so much more can go a long way in building the community that we have here. All of these things are achievable with the willingness of each of you to get involved.
This is your city too. You have just as much say any other day as you do on election day. It is part of my job as mayor to provide you with the avenues and opportunities you need and want to be as involved as you would like in how this city recovers. All of us should take pride and great joy in the team effort to make Hagerstown the Hub City again. Whatever I can do to help you, make you feel a part of this and give you agency to do what you can to help Hagerstown, I am going to do that.
We keep hearing about all of the new jobs that are being created in the manufacturing and tech industries. I'd like to see Hagserstown bring in some of those jobs. We have far too many of our young students leaving the area because there aren't enough opportunities here. This must change. We have nearly 2,000 fewer businesses in Hagerstown/ Washington County than our neighbor Frederick does. Let's bring some success to this side of the mountain.
One of the biggest deals of the year for Hagerstown will be a new warehouse thsat will add 1,500 jobs. That's great but those jobs don't pay your bills, especially with Maryland taxes. This is why we need better jobs, not just more jobs coming to the Hub City. We have a great number of potential employers that are ready to develop with us, let's take them up on the offer for a brighter futture. Average weekly wages in Hagerstown were $841 in Q4 2019. We can do better than that for our people.
Growth is not possible without proper zoning ordinances. The city of Hagerstown has a tremendous amount of Moderate and Medium density residential zoning with limited commercial and high residential zoning. In order to conserve land as well as bring in new growth, some of the older older locations in limited or no use at all to be repurposed and zoned for growth projects aimed at bringing newer, better paying jobs and new housing projects into the city. Both of these will serve to improve the quality of life as well as quality of income for many of you seeking a better future here.
One of the greatest job creators in America is the small business. Last year, Washington County and Hagerstown had nearly 2,000 fewer businesses than Frederick had. There are so many great entrepeneurs that wish to open up a business in Hagerstown and make it the city it is meant to be. We have to free up small businesses owners with incentives, grants for growth, potentially tax breaks, anything we can do to get those creative minds to move here.
One of the strengths of Hagerstown is its legacy and history. We have a rich German tradition here that is reflected in the Augustober festival, attracting thousands of visitors every year. Why not have a traditional German Christmas Market at City Park around the Hager House? We can maintain our great heritage, bring in tourist dollars and show off our local craftsmen and women, provide a fun Holiday atmosphere and generate all kinds of revenue for local artisans and entrepeneurs.
A growing economy will not last forever and we must capitalize on it before it's no longer possible. You need a job, you need better wages, maybe you want a new career and can't leave the area. Hagerstown needs to be a city of activity, investment, growth and opportunity for you. My reason for running is so that I can help make all of our lives better and so that we can all have great success in the process. I am so proud of what Hagerstown was and I want all of us to be proud of what Hagerstown will be.