Letter to the Editor - Police and Geneseo levy

by Casey Disterhof, Geneseo Chief of police

The City Council and I are very cognizant of the financial struggles of the residents and businesses of Geneseo during this COVID pandemic. Throughout the past year the City and Police Department have been working directly with business leaders and citizens to get through this pandemic and move forward stronger.

We all live in the City of Geneseo because of our neighbors, as well as having a safe community, in which to raise our children. Geneseo is a place where we can all feel safe and secure in our daily lives. I believe a large part of our being able to feel secure is the commitment of our police officers, telecommunicators and civilian employees. Everyone at the police department has a commitment to each citizen, business owner and visitor to ensure they feel safe and secure in their lives.

Discussion Tuesday night by the City Council struggled with maintaining the current structure of the police department against slightly raising taxes on our citizens. No one at the City wanted to be in a position where we had to ask for additional funds. However, due to many different events of the past, we felt it necessary. Prior to asking for this increase, every city department looked deep into their budgets for places they could cut. Every department cut; and cut deep. Today you have fewer City employees, which makes it more difficult to provide the same services as before. Even with these cuts, the employees have worked harder in order to maintain all of the services we have always provided. I said it last night and will repeat it here, I invest every cent received from taxpayers into making this police department better servants for the community and providing a safe environment for all citizens.

In order to be fiscally responsible to the citizens, the police department has also reviewed their needs. Through this review, we have placed needed projects on hold, or reduced the scope of these projects. Unfortunately, in operating a police department, we have state and federal mandates placed upon us, by which we must abide. These mandates are unfunded by the State and federal authorities but are still required.

With over 80% of the police department budget going to employee costs, there is very little room to cut. The tools and equipment police officers use every day to keep you and them safe are expensive. As a citizen of Geneseo, I wish these officers and tools were never needed, however; as we have seen recently during multiple major incidents, you never know when you will need these tools, officers and telecommunicators.

Your police department has worked hard over the past two and a half years to continue growing as a professional organization. With the current taxing revenues, the future structure of the police department may be different. I am not saying services would be reduced, we just don’t know. My intention is to do everything in my ability to maintain the current police services to the City of Geneseo, its citizens and businesses. Mayor Johnson said it best last night by asking, “What do the citizens of Geneseo want their police department to look like?”

Casey Disterhof, Geneeso Chief of Police