Cape Girardeau police hopeful of new tax to provide more policing

Cape Girardeau police hopeful of new tax to provide more policing

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Revenue from a new tax, if passed in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, would bring in about $1.25 million and possibly seven new officers.

The Cape Girardeau Police Chief, Wes Blair, said the time to strengthen his department is now.

"That's really what it's all about is being able to build relationships," Blair said.

Chief Blair said it's no secret his department needs more officers, and he's well aware adding more officers will allow for better policing in the community.

"I think if we can free up officers time to do relationship building we can see our crime go down," Blair said.

Cape Girardeau voters will decide this spring on the new use tax. It would apply to things like vehicles and boats bought in a different state, but used in Missouri.

The rate would match the local sales tax rate of 2.75 percent and is estimated to bring in $1.25 million per year.

About $385,000 of that would go to hiring up to seven additional police officers.

Gary Stroder owns a beauty shop in Cape Girardeau.

He said although many people may be tired of hearing about new taxes, they should appreciate this one.

"I think that they might go along with this because we need more protection for our community here in Cape Girardeau," Stroder said.

According to researchers, the Cape Police department has 1.91 officers per 1,000 residents, with the state average being 2.42.

One common concern is the department's recent struggle to get officers, which could possibly leave the new positions open if the tax is approved.

Chief Blair admits it hasn't been easy, but they are finding new ways to add to their numbers.

"We had some difficulties recruiting," Blair said. "We also had some pretty good successes. We've outreached our recruiting effort and has really worked closely with the university to help in recruiting. Right now we're fully staffed and I think once we get these additional officers, we'll still be able to stay close to fully staffed."

Voters will get the chance to have their voices heard when they head to the polls on April 7.

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