Hundreds of people clad in blue clothing flocked to downtown Fort Worth on Monday for a Main Street Backs the Blue Rally. Anyone who’s lived in Fort Worth for long knows how much residents have supported police over the years.
People around here voluntarily tax themselves more than ten million dollars a year to fund the Crime Control and Prevention District. The city created the district in 1995 after crime rates increased in the 1980s. The half-cent sales tax is intended to provide additional resources for police to fight crime. The election comes up every five years, and the half-cent sales tax has generated hundreds of millions of dollars.
Even after over-reaching city leaders meddled with and politicized the program, voters approved the crime district. Even after crime stats fell, voters said yes. Even after neighborhood crime watches and citizen policing became the norm, voters kept saying yes. And even as police are being roundly castigated nationwide for bullying people, locals keep backing the blue.
Sure, naysayers pop up before every crime district election and accuse the police and city officials of using the district money to cover shortages in the general fund, which is a no-no. Crime district money is intended for additional policing resources and programs, not to cover regular budget items.
And critic s complained after the city council wrested control of the district in sneaky fashion. Former Mayor Mike Moncrief wanted city leaders to determine how the police money was spent rather than relying on oversight from an independent board. So, in typical Moncrief fashion, he waited for voters to approve the district in 2009, and then he announced the city council would take over the decision-making moving forward (even though residents had made it clear they preferred an independent board). Moncrief kicked the independent board to the curb just like he did to members of the city’s Ethics Committee who dared to say, “Uh, we see ethical problems.”
Hey, but that’s been all forgotten. Water under the bridge, baby. Que sera sera, sucker. Last year, the election was up again, and the lemmings, er, voters did what’s in their blood –– they lined up to back the blue, blindly.
Some people prefer more checks, balances, and accountability before jumping on the blue bandwagon.