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Focus Area: Public Health and Safety

Back in October, I shared some updates about our Strategic Plan and the direction the City is going. I touched on the six key focus areas of responsible growth, transportation and infrastructure, public health and safety, a vibrant and sustainable community, and government excellence. Our City’s leadership, staff and our community partners have been working on execution of the plan with the ultimate goal of being a premier community to live, work and raise a family. 

This month I’d like to dive into Public Health and Safety which is the foundation to the services we provide and our community’s success.  Our Strategic Plan states the following as it relates to public safety:  

Meridian will maintain its status as one of the safest communities in the West by investing in services and infrastructure that are essential to public health and safety. We will provide timely services, safe drinking water, and regulatory compliant wastewater services. We will evaluate the environmental impacts and our decisions, using data to inform our decision making. We will partner with our health community to ensure access to quality care for our citizens. 

To achieve success in this focus area we have identified several goals in Public Health and Safety which our departments are actively working on. 

Invest in needed Police facilities while implementing strategies to reduce property crime, improve traffic safety, enhance public education and prevention efforts and meet service level expectations. 

Meridian Police started construction on the northwest Precinct which will provide a more efficient allocation of patrol services in this growing part of our community, reducing windshield time of our officers. They also recently implemented a Crisis Intervention Team which has been working with the community on mental health issues which are a growing component of the calls our officers are responding to. To address traffic concerns on Eagle Road, we are taking the lead with law enforcement from all around the valley to improve safety enforcement, establish the right speeds, and starting this month we are doing saturation patrols, focusing on aggressive driving. Our investment in training facilities is also paying off, as we are able to have greater and more frequent collaborations with other public safety agencies, to ensure our Fire, Police and EMS services are well prepared against any threats to the health and safety of our community.   

Deploy public safety resources to neighborhoods, to facilitate positive engagement, dialogue and build community trust. 

As part of our commitment to public safety, we are working to hire six new School Resource Officers who were approved in this year’s budget and will provide enhanced service to elementary and middle schools, creating greater engagement with teachers, parents and the community. Additionally, with support from the Mayor, Chief, and City Council, funds received from the State Opioid Settlement are being used to expand drug prevention services in Meridian. Partnership requests for prevention and education events and resources has doubled in the past five years creating the need for a new drug prevention coordinator. This role helps ensure the Meridian Anti-Drug Coalition and the Meridian Police Department are able to continue providing the same great level of service to our growing community through educating, informing and engaging our citizens on important techniques to avoid drug abuse. Our Youth and Public Safety Academies also shape connections between the community and our officers and staff, building trust in our community through interactions and conversations.

Develop and support plans with community health providers to ensure health care services are available in all parts of the community. 

Currently, Meridian Fire is working with our partners at Ada County Dispatch looking for ways to reduce call routing to get emergency responders to incidents sooner. They are also in process of developing an agreement to co-locate Ada County paramedic services at two of our fire stations which will allow faster access to service calls in Meridian. This strategy should also reduce overall cost burdens to tax payers as the County would not have to build new paramedic facilities as frequently, or soon as they originally planned.   

Invest in needed Fire facilities while implementing strategies to reduce loss of life and property, improve outcomes of response, enhance public education and risk reduction efforts to improve resident safety and meet service level expectations. 

The Fire Department is well-underway in construction of both fire stations #7 and #8, and the first of the 30 firefighters needed for these stations have begun their training. The department is also using of data analytics to improve service deployment. They are assessing how quickly our firefighters are able to leave the station and get to emergency calls. Our number one call for service is slips, falls and trips, so our public education division has concentrated conversation with our senior population to prevent these calls. In addition, reducing risks in apartments and other multifamily residential living is a top priority of our fire department, so they are funding development of a multi-level housing safety and inspection program to keep these large buildings safe, where many residents call home. 

Invest in innovative technologies and processes to enhance drinking water quality, improve clean water discharge qualities and reduce the impact on the external environment to protect public health and compliance with regulations. 

There are also the “heroes of the underground” in our Public Works Department who are advancing the goals of the City and ensuring that our residents and businesses have clean and safe water and wastewater services. This past spring Public Works took proactive measures hosting a Water Summit which evaluated the short term and long-term water demand and supply in the City ensuring that the City has adequate water supplies to serve that development now and into the future.

Public Works has made significant investments in well treatment facilities to remove contaminants like iron and manganese. We currently have two well treatments under construction and two more planned next year which will continue our efforts to reduce brown water from our system, especially in northeast and southern sections of the City. On the Waste Water side, we have been improving facilities such as the new 800,000-gallon digester that eats up the solids that we flush down the toilet and breaks them down. Additionally, the recent Liquid Stream Capacity project has also allowed us to increase nutrient removal processes and the plant’s capacity by over 50%. This gives us flexibility and keeps us in compliance with regulations as we grow as a community and that used water is treated to the highest regulatory standards protecting the health and safety of our local waterways. 

As you can see, your public servants are working day in and day out to keep Meridian one of the safest cities in Idaho, and the premier community we know and love and our Strategic Plan is guiding us along the way. If you want to learn more about what our Public Works, the Fire Department, or the Police Department are doing related to Public Health and Safety, I encourage you to listen in on our #myMERIDIAN Podcast where I have been speaking on these topics with their respective directors in the episodes.  

About the author

Mayor Simison

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