Five more police officers could be on town streets by next spring.
The new hires would increase the number of sworn officers from 111 to 116. The police department, which has an annual budget of about $18 million, has not had an increase in sworn officers in the last decade, said Police Chief Frank Kitzerow.
The population of Jupiter 10 years ago, when Kitzerow was hired, was about 48,000. Today’ town population is about 58,000, according to the U.S. Census.
Hiring, training and equipping the police officers would cost about $762,000, according to town records.
“The increase the town has had in new development, as well as population, has brought about the need for more officers. We also need more officers to handle the increase in traffic, especially along Indiantown Road and Military Trail,” said Kitzerow.
The five new sworn officers are part of the proposed 2015-2016 Jupiter budget that was reviewed at a June 25 public meeting. Public hearings and a final council vote on the budget are scheduled for the fall.
New construction requires more police officers, said Ben Klug, who was recently appointed to the town council.
Harbourside Place and the 275-house Lakewood project at Indiantown Road and Florida’s Turnpike will bring more traffic and calls to police, said Klug. Homes and businesses are being built on the Briger property on the south side of Donald Ross Road. New businesses and more traffic will come next spring when the $8 million refurbishing project on State Road A1A is complete between U.S. Route 1 and Jupiter Beach Road, he said.
“It’s important that we keep police services up with the needs of the community,” Klug said.
Councilman Ilan Kaufer supports the increase.
The “addition of these resources is a good investment in our community for public safety and quality of life,” Kaufer said via email.
Most of the need for more officers is in traffic control, said Kitzerow.
A separate division for police accident prevention and investigation also is being considered, said Councilman Todd Wodraska.
“We not hiring more officers to write more tickets. We want to work with the town staff and better handle traffic issues before they become a problem,” said Kitzerow.
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