Submitted to Branson Globe
The City of Kimberling City Police Department is off to a great start for 2023, after its first year under new leadership from Chief Todd Lemoine. For 2022, the police department accomplished many goals and first-time initiatives including its K-9 division; a social media presence for improved public perception and transparency; website online forms; Eye Watch; a ride-along program; Neighborhood Watch program; Coffee Talk Thursdays with Todd; body-worn cameras; department-issued cellular phones; National Night Out; and uniform outer-carry vests. The department received over $45,000 in grants and $7,000 in overtime grant funds to help begin implementing such goals. To keep things safe, over 1,600 traffic stops were conducted and 56 suspects arrested, and the department had a presence at over 60 community and public events.
Officers Billie Kregel and Andrew Boillot were recently promoted to the rank of Corporal. Chief Lemoine explained that all officers were hired as Police Officer 1 with the intention of promotions from within, and the rank of Corporal gives not only supervisory status and a chain of command in the department, but also additional responsibility. These officers’ motivation and dedication, as well as the position the Police Department is in today, underscore the commitment to excellence, goal-setting and bringing concepts to reality.
Although calls for service are up for the past year, with the police department responding to 3,575 calls, many were related to medical and traffic enforcement, with crime statistics for 2022 actually down 11% from 2021. Although the population of Kimberling City per the 2020 census is relatively stable, surrounding areas near Table Rock Lake continue to grow. In light of this, Lemoine attributes remaining a “Safe City” to several factors:
· The citizens of the City of Kimberling City;
· Overwhelming support from Mayor Bob Fritz and City Administrator Dawne Gardener as well as city hall staff, public works, the board of aldermen, and the police committee;
· The professionalism of the police department
Traveling through Kimberling City, it is apparent there is an efficient, progressive, professional and proactive police presence. It is also obvious the city is home to amazing, friendly citizens who call it home and hope never to leave. It is considered a safe place to raise a family, due to the low crime rate, because people choose to keep it that way with the assistance of a police department comprising dedicated professionals who are present, accountable and ready.
In a recent newsletter, Chief Lemoine thanked the community and city leaders for supporting the improvements, and pledged to continue the level of police presence and response from a well-equipped, well-trained department the community can be proud of. To help accomplish this, voters in Kimberling City will be asked during the April 4 General Municipal Election to pass a Public Safety Sales Tax. Proposition PD will be on the municipal ballot as follows:
“Shall the Municipality of Kimberling City, Missouri, impose a City sales tax of one-half of one percent (.5%) for the purpose of funding costs of public safety, including but not limited to law enforcement operations, equipment, compensation and training.”
After being sworn in as Chief in November 2021, Lemoine began making positive changes but realized the budget was not at a level needed to grow and sustain the service the community has grown to know over the past year. The sales tax will generate an estimated $300,000 that, by state law, can only be utilized for public safety.
In a series of public meetings and social media posts, Lemoine has explained the need for and the breakdown of the proposed tax. Currently the sales tax in Kimberling City is at 8.725%, with 4.225% going to the state, 2% going to Stone County, 0.5% to local use for internet sales, and only 2% currently staying within the city. As an example of the budget impact for the average citizen, customers spending $10 at a restaurant in town would pay an extra 5 cents; a $200 purchase, say a car battery at O’Reilly’s, would cost an extra $1, a percentage Lemoine believes is well worth it for the improved safety of residents.
A comprehensive plan in place to justify the use of the funds over the next several years highlights several key elements:
· Crucial funding to maintain the Police Department through recruitment and retention of highly qualified officers.
· Competitive wages in comparison with other law enforcement in southwest Missouri.
· A longevity pay scale and additional benefits in line with other agencies to improve retention.
· Protective equipment, uniforms and well-maintained, up-to-date patrol cars.
· Regular professional training curriculum to keep officers as informed as possible.
“We are the largest city in Stone County, and it is inevitable that Kimberling City will grow in population,” stated Lemoine. “Traffic passing through will continually increase, and unfortunately, that means potential for increased crime. The 3,500-plus calls in 2022, inclusive of traffic enforcement, is 1,000 more than previous annual numbers, and we need to be prepared for growth.”
Conversely, if the tax were to not pass, officers would continue to protect and serve, but with limited resources, driving patrol cars with high mileage and sometimes 24/7 use of the cars; cutting line items of the budget to maintain competitive salaries; working extra shifts when officers are sick, resulting in extra overtime paid; potential for delayed response to assist or render aid for medical emergencies; and online training rather than valuable in-person training experiences.
Lemoine emphasizes that as citizens consider the opportunity to make a difference on April 4, he is always happy to meet residents and answer questions, as he has done during numerous public engagements since assuming the role of Police Chief. More information about Proposition PD is available via the Kimberling City Police Department Facebook page or by phone at City Hall, or visit the City website, www.ckcmo.com, and scroll down to “Proposition PD” for a list of FAQs.