It takes a lot of hard work and planning to be one of the safest cities in the state, and public safety is job number one. Over the past few months we have seen leadership changes in both our police and fire departments that will help us maintain the great police and fire services you have come to expect and prepare for the challenges that lie ahead in our growing and evolving community.
In January, we welcomed a familiar face to lead Meridian Police Department. How law enforcement officers serve the community every day is determined by the leadership of their Chief and it reflects on the community as a whole. Knowing this, it was obvious that Tracy Basterrechea was the right person for the job. Chief Basterrechea has served with the Meridian Police department for the last 24 years. He rose through the ranks from a patrol officer and spent the last 12 years as our Deputy Chief. Chief Basterrechea’s experience with the department’s operations and people provided for a seamless transition, allowing him to hit the ground running.
On the fire side of our public safety team, we are happy to have Kristopher Blume leading the charge. Chief Blume joined us last month, after serving twenty years with the Tuscon Fire Department. Originally from Idaho, he and his wife are happy to return to the Gem State and plant roots with their young son, and we are happy to have them here. I was very impressed with Chief Blume’s passion and vision for our growing department. Combined with his experience in both operations and leadership, I have full confidence that Chief Blume will be able to lead our fire department through the challenging years to come.
The community was able to hear from Chief Basterrechea at a Town Hall event in January. I look forward for the community to have a similar opportunity to hear from Chief Blume on May 19th, where he will provide us with his vision for the future of Meridian Fire Department. You can pre-register for the event or view recordings of the past Town Halls at meridiancity.org/townhall.
As we transition in leadership, also on the horizon in public safety are the need for additional facilities to meet service needs and expectations. At the April 6th City Council Work Session Chief Blume presented on the potential timelines of our next two fire stations. The discussion with City Council focused on whether we should move up the construction for one of our stations to have both built at the same time in order to reduce construction costs and advance needed life safety services to our residents as soon as possible. This is critical as we are seeing reliability issues for the closest fire station to respond due to calls for service and development occurring outside of our five minute response goal. In addition, it was noted that two stations can likely improve the City’s rating which could lower insurance rates for both residents and commercial businesses. Both locations will be co-located with police substations as well, which will be built on their own timeline. We will continue to monitor and update on this concept, and will discuss further as we head into budget planning sessions. The April 6th meeting is available online at meridiancity.org and I encourage our community members who are interested to go back and watch.
Additionally, we continue to look forward to the completion of the Public Safety Training Center that is currently taking shape near Meridian Police Department. The Training Center will provide our first responders across the Treasure Valley with the chance to train in realistic scenarios, better preparing them for difficult situations in the field. The building is expected to reach completion this summer and we will provide updates as we near its grand opening.
As you can see, there is lots of activity in our police and fire departments. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and watch our social media for updates on public safety and more.