West Palm mayor asks for police gear, drug crisis help from lawmakers

Updated Dec 05, 2017
Lannis Waters/The Palm Beach Post
West Palm Mayor Jeri Muoio

For a sense of the times we live in, ask West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio what’s on her holiday wish list.

The mayor is in Tallahassee this week to lobby lawmakers for help with city priorities. West Palm might be a city of modest size but it’s dealing with issues of national scope, from presidential security to opioid addiction and mass-murder response. The mayor’s requests reflect those concerns.

During the past three years city spending for the overdose preventative Narcan has skyrocketed 48 percent, to the point where West Palm spends $200,000 a year for first-responders to have an adequate supply, the mayor said Tuesday in an interview from the state capital. So, high on her list, she’s urging lawmakers to bolster the state grants for Narcan.

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Public safety vehicles also are a priority.

The city needs a “mass casualty incident truck,” an incident command vehicle and a bigger patrol boat, she said. The three would cost $1.1 million and the city is lobbying for $525,000 from the state Legislature and would cover the remaining $575,000 itself.

The mass casualty truck is what it sounds like — a vehicle with emergency supplies and equipment for triage. “They had one in Las Vegas when they had the shooting. It was extremely helpful,” the mayor said.

The command vehicle is a mobile command post that multiple agencies can work out of during an incident, she said.

The city has a small boat for Intracoastal Waterway patrols but it’s not big enough for all the gear that’s needed, particularly with more trips anticipated by President Trump to Mar-a-Lago, she said.

West Palm already has nearly $4 million coming from the feds to help pay for 10 new police officers and 15 new firefighters, and has been reimbursed for police overtime for presidential security. The city also purchased a hazmat vehicle, partly to address its responsibility for screening all mail that goes to Mar-a-Lago, Muoio added.

The city will ask state lawmakers for $400,000 to better light Rosemary Avenue, which also is getting improved landscaping, to to help forge a more active link between downtown and the poorer neighborhoods to the north.

And what would a trip to Washington or Tallahassee be without a push to kill the state’s and county’s planned extension of State Road 7 on the western edge of Grassy Waters Preserve, the city’s water supply? The city has spent years and millions of dollars fighting the project, which is poised to get underway next summer.

Muoio said she’s asking lawmakers to grant the 24-square-mile preserve “Outstanding Florida Waters” designation.

Will that stave off the road project? “That’s what we’ll find out,” she said.