Remember when the “Safety First” building had those words emblazoned on its rooftop? I used to love seeing that reminder as I drove back into Boulder City at the end of each day.
Safety first has always been one of our city’s top priorities. And during our recent strategic planning process, input from our citizens confirmed that’s still true. Our residents have a strong desire to sustain Boulder City’s top-notch public safety services.
In 2018, our police and fire departments made an extra commitment to preparedness by establishing an Office of Emergency Management, as well as an all-hazards plan. Special thanks to Fire Chief Kevin Nicholson, who led the way to get those finalized. As we move forward to adopt emergency management codes and begin practicing our respective roles in the plan, Boulder City will be better prepared than ever to provide essential emergency response functions during a disaster.
As a bonus, we recently learned that the city will be reimbursed approximately $750,000 from the state for Medicaid patients who received emergency medical ground transportation services during fiscal years 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Our long-anticipated fire station renovation is now firing up, as well. This project will create a safer, more functional work environment, while improving energy efficiency in the aging facility, lowering maintenance costs and enhancing access.
Thank you, as well, to Boulder City voters who passed ballot Question No. 1 in November approving expenditures from the city’s capital improvement fund to replace the department’s aging fire engine. As I joked in my recent State of the City address, the old engine now has enough candles on its birthday cake to itself be declared a fire hazard.
Fire also revitalized its reserve program last year. Using a nontraditional approach to staffing, they were able to tap into a larger pool of qualified candidates and assign new reserves to staff the department’s third rescue.
Speaking of supreme safety, Boulder City still boasts an overall crime rate that’s at least 60 percent lower than the national average, thanks in large part to our Police Department and its extra efforts to enlist the help of our citizens.
Chief Tim Shea recently gave the oath of office to three new police hires, bringing the department back to fully staffed status for the first time in several years.
In 2018, the department also added a much-needed 911 dispatcher, re-established two motorcycle traffic officers and upgraded the K-9 unit with two handlers and two canines. With regular visits to our schools and community events, Chief Shea and his staff have shown an impressive level of accessibility and dedication, which instills confidence in our citizens.
To help with education outreach efforts, the Police Department has also engaged more than two dozen volunteers, who are supervised by Patrick Richardson. The volunteers recently implemented a neighborhood speed awareness program, which informs speeders by mail of their lead-footedness in an effort to induce self-corrective action without initially punishing them.
They’ve also implemented a volunteer patrol program to look for roadway hazards that can be addressed by Public Works, such as downed or obstructed traffic signs and pot holes. Our police volunteers also kicked off their “You Are Not Alone” program, a free service conducted in partnership with the Senior Center of Boulder City that provides comfort and security to older adults by checking in with them on a regular basis.
Our men and women in uniform truly are among Boulder City’s finest. In Chief Shea’s own words, “I am so proud of what the men and women who serve in all the areas of the Police Department have accomplished. They are on duty every hour of every day without fail. We never close. They see and deal with people in extreme distress and in dire situations as a matter of routine.
What they do each and every day to help make our community the exceptional community it is, coupled with their steadfast dedication and willingness to subordinate personal wants and comforts to meet their obligations, is their never-ending accomplishment and gift to our citizens.”
Animal control, which falls under the auspices of the Police Department, completed approximately 800 adoptions in 2018, which amazingly amounts to over two per day.
Boulder City’s animal shelter euthanized less than 4 percent of all animals either picked up or relinquished to its care, which means it now qualifies as a no-kill shelter.
And, finally, our Breaking the Cycle drug court program continues to save broken lives and improve our community. The program now boasts 15 graduates since its inception three years ago. With help from the city, the Sunrise Rotary Club continues to provide major support for the program. And the Nevada Supreme Court chipped in to fund specialty court training for the entire Breaking the Cycle court team last year.
So, that’s our safety first team. Please join me in thanking each one of them whenever you see them around town. In our crazy world, it’s nice to know that there are still a few safe havens like Boulder City.
Rod Woodbury is mayor of Boulder City. He has been serving on the City Council since 2011 and is the president and managing shareholder of his law firm, Woodbury Law.