YOUR SIDE: The Readers Take Over

The Salem Police Department has come a long way

To the editor:

In my seven years as Chairman of Traffic and Safety committee on city council, it has been very rewarding to see and be a part of the outstanding progress our department has made. When I was first elected, the primary concern I had heard from my fellow citizens was regarding the increased drugs and crime in our small town. Step by step we added equipment, staffing, mutual aid agreements and much needed enforcement legislation.

I decided to compare a few numbers from 2010 versus 2016. Since 2010 we have added 3 additional full time officers, 6 part time officers and one secretary. Traffic citations were 503 in 2010, compared with 923 in 2016. Our police vehicles (which had dwindled due to limited capital improvement funding requiring most all purchases being made from DEA forfeiture monies) have been refreshed to the point that 9 out of 12 vehicles are 2015 or newer. On September 23, 2015, we held the first Traffic and Safety meeting regarding setting up a Salem K9 unit. The Sheriff’s K9 unit attended the meeting for a demonstration. Two years later, with help from many in our community, we now have two K9 units on the force with a current monthly deployment average of 58.

One topic that was important to me was the establishment of the Clandestine Drug Lab ordinance. Between law enforcement, our administration and our housing inspection departments, it was clear that ensuring the cleanup of meth labs needed to be a focal point. And most importantly, putting significant penalties in place for anyone who would allow unknowing owners/renters to occupy a contaminated site. Seeing a melted boot that an officer received after walking across tainted carpets was enough to convince me of the real dangers.

In participating in police ride along opportunities, I was afforded a chance to witness what our officers, K9 units and dispatchers deal with on a daily basis. I remain grateful to the department for their willingness to include me. As both a council member, and homeowner, I commend our department and all those who have had a hand in the progress we have made.

Brian Whitehill,

Salem City Council At-Large


Disputes what council member implied in letter to editor

To the editor:

Salem Councilman Geoff Goll asks in his recent letter to the editor what harm is there for non-politicians to discuss the pros and cons of a charter form of government as if he isn’t a politician. Incredibly he suggests that the vote will not form a charter, but rather it will just permit us to discuss if a charter is needed or what may be in it. Really? That is not what the ballot language states.

The facts of the matter are that the actual charter ballot language asks shall a commission be chosen to frame a charter for the governance of the city of Salem? By using the word framing, clearly the language means moving forward with the drafting of an entirely new form of city government. Why not just say no?

If all of this talk about a charter is about just considering its pros and cons, why is there even any controversy about the need to hire a high priced consultant to advise the commission as to how just how to frame this new city government? We have heard cost figures of between $20,000 to $40,000 for this consultant. Or is it likely to cost a lot more? Why hide this?

Finally, how insulting for anybody to suggest that the two political parties would oppose this merely for the sake of political patronage or fundraising income. Neither political party offers paid positions to anybody. Nor do we offer patronage jobs in exchange for a vote and Mr. Goll knows better.

What we do offer the public, free of charge, are long hours of volunteerism, year after year all for the sake of self-governance and for championing the much cherished right we all have to directly elect our public officials. Excuse the two political parties for coming together and uniting for what we perceive to be the betterment of the community we love.

Salem voters who cherish their right to directly elect our local public officials need to vote “no” to the charter. The ballot measure in question is not merely approving a discussion as alleged by some. It is a well conceived plan to remove your direct vote in Salem and transfer power over to an unelected, unaccountable city manager, city fiscal officer and who knows who else. If this is not what charter proponents have in mind, then why all the secrecy?