City Council approves Consent Agenda for Public Safety Committee

Published 6:31 pm Friday, March 3, 2023

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City Council moved forward with creating a new Public Safety Committee, an idea raised during a recent Law Enforcement Forum.

At the Wednesday, March 1 meeting, Council voted unanimously to create the committee as part of approving five items on its consent agenda.

“In regard to Item 8 is an ordinance creating a public safety committee,” City Manager Albert S. Moor II said. “The committee shall consist of a representative from the City Manager’s office, the City Attorney’s office, the Commonwealth Attorney’s office, the Sheriff’s Office, the Police Department, the Fire Department, the jail authority, Suffolk Public Schools, the Mayor, and two members from City Council. The Mayor will serve as Chairperson and the Vice Chair will be selected by members of the committee by consensus.”

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Consent agenda items are approved without discussion, but Mayor Michael D. Duman addressed the new committee in his closing comments 

“We are reestablishing the Public Safety Committee in a different format — same name, but not the same thing. According to the ordinance in the way it’s written, ‘It is to serve as a formal channel of communication between city government and citizens regarding public safety issues,’” Duman said. “The committee will strive to strengthen working relationships between city agencies, promote community engagement and develop strategies to improve the safety of the city’s communities and neighborhoods.”

The mayor said the committee will address all safety issues, not just crime-related issues.

“I do want to make it clear that this is not an oversight committee, it is a communication committee, it is an engagement committee, and ultimately it’s a committee that will resolve public safety issues through collaboration and allocation of resources,” said Duman. “I look forward to what the committee, with the cooperation of our students, is capable of accomplishing and we must never forget that in every neighborhood, the quality of life is directly linked to how safe the residents feel. And I want to say that word — feel. F.E.E.L.”

Duman said it’s got nothing to do with statistics, but “right here” as he pointed to his head.

“How do you feel when you come out of your house and you’re walking towards your car? How do you feel when you come out of a grocery store into a dark parking lot? That’s how you feel,” he said.

The other items approved as part of the agenda Wednesday include:

  • A resolution adding a member to the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee, adding a 23rd member representing the City Council.
  • An ordinance to accept and appropriate $1.2 million in funds proffered by McDonald Development Co. to support the Holland Road Improvement project.
  • An ordinance to accept and appropriate $2,000 in funds from the Library of Virginia for the Suffolk Public Library to assist with travel and conference costs to the July Public Library Conference.
  • An ordinance to accept and appropriate $50,000 in funds from the Obici Healthcare Foundation for the Suffolk Department of Parks and Recreation renovation of tennis courts located at the Lake Meade and Bennett’s Creek parks.