I wanted to share the hope and desire for action that I heard from our City Council’s homeless study session on October 10th. We were there to listen and to seek to understand your perspective and now I believe it’s our responsibility as a Council to discuss actions. 

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The city staff did a good job of laying out the laws and obstacles that our officers and city as a whole face. Several non-profits spoke to their strengths on what they are doing to try and help those that want and need help as well. I was glad to hear the appreciation from the audience of what they are all trying to do to curtail the rise in our homeless and transient populations. All of the information was valuable and I encourage you to watch it. 

However the most important aspect of the whole night was hearing the comments from our residents and business owners. Their stories were sometimes raw, aways heartfelt, yet laced with real frustration as to what they and their kids are experiencing on the daily. 

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Those who spoke did an amazing job of distinguishing between the crimes committed by the able bodied, often drug addicted homeless in contrast to the homeless that are down on their luck and desperately want and need our help.  No one wants criminal activity to continue to rise in our city and most people want to support those who want and need a hand up. 

Most everyone mentioned their overwhelming support to our public safety departments and code enforcement as they also challenged this Council to lead on this issue. The frustration was clear – they’ve had enough of Council seemingly doing nothing more to address this issue. 

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The biggest call to action was for the city council to prioritize their police department and give them the resources they need. It was clear people are frustrated with hearing the phrase from the city that “We don’t have enough money.”  The frustration here lies with the growth in our city and questions as to why the council is not prioritizing the resources we do have around this issue. An issue that when improved, positively affects everyone and every other department in the city. 

The sad truth is that we are losing ground fast on the crimes committed from all kinds of populations. 

Let’s speak to the truth and facts. We aren’t even at the median level of officers for the population of our growing city. A common way police departments evaluate their staffing is using the ratio of officers per thousand. 

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I’ve done the research and the median level throughout our entire region is 1.1 officers per thousand. We have 81 officers and give or take a population of about 85,000 people. That is a ratio of .95 officers per thousand. We are 10th out of 14 departments throughout our region.  

If we were staffed at an average level we would have 93+ officers right now.  We only have 81. 

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We as a council have allowed this to happen. Not past councils or future councils but this council is allowing this to happen. This council was presented with this fact on May 23rd. This is not news. 

It’s time to think about our budget priorities differently. And by different I mean actually strategize how to implement  our budget, the revenue we do have, around your priorities. 

The facts and data support the need for this council to invest in more resources for public safety. 

More importantly the residents and business owners continue to make it clear that they want to see results. 

The cost of doing nothing is far too high.

There were some really good questions from my fellow Councilmembers and I saw many of them leaning in as you shared your experiences. That made me proud as well. You made a difference. I really do believe that when we face the reality of a situation and talk through the obstacles as we listen and build upon many potential solutions – together we can work through our differences and the problems we face. But we must first all be committed to do so. Your voice was essential in this process and will continue to be important. 

You challenging the council to do something is your job. Our role on council is to listen, have difficult conversations, to find solutions and to make tough decisions based on what we have heard from you. Our job is to start from a clean slate right now and move forward together. 

I do have other priorities throughout Folsom. I’d like to replace Castle Park (Kids Play Park), I’d like to add to and fix the trails, properly maintain the parks we do have. On and on. However without safety all the things we truly love about Folsom become more and more irrelevant. 

Thank you for all those who participated in the discussion and were watching. I will keep fighting for your safety as long as it’s your priority to do so. 

Anna Rohrbough represents Folsom’s District 5 on City Council. She can be reached at AnnaR@folsom.ca.us. 

Anna Rohrbough
Author: Anna Rohrbough