Gerry Frank is Salems human Rock of Gibraltar, an indomitable presence who looms large over the community. Over the decades, the restauranteur/businessman/author/philanthropist has contributed his time, money, political savvy and bountiful energy toward transformational civic endeavors, now including the campaign to replace Salems police station. Along with former Mayor Janet Taylor, Gerry is co-chairing the Friends of Salem Police political action committee, a citizen-led support group that has gained momentum in its efforts to educate the electorate about the urgent need for a new police facility.
Friends of Salem Police: Last November, voters narrowly defeated a bond issue to fund a new police facility. What went wrong? And why try again?
Gerry Frank: I can only speak for myself, but last time nobody came to me to ask what my feelings were about the police facility or ask for a contribution. It was sort of an undercover program, and I felt that that was not right. The police department is a vital part of our community. We are so blessed to have an outstanding police chief in Jerry Moore. So, while hes here, lets give him the tools and the area he needs to do the job with his great force.
FSP: You have been encouraging citizens to tour the current police station. Why?
GF: Nothing is as dynamic for any of us as looking with our own eyes. I was blown away by the conditions under which our officers have to work. Its just not right.
FSP: You were among a group of high-profile citizens who encouraged the City of Salem after the election to revisit the plans for the police center and come back with a less costly proposal for the voters.
GF: Its not that we ever wanted to build a Taj Mahal. Not for a minute. We simply wanted to give law enforcement the kind of facility that you and I would have if we were running a business. We need to provide the tools to do the kind of job that we want to keep Salem safe. Plus, the present facility is not efficient. We are not getting the full value from the wonderful folks in our Salem Police Department. I was involved in building the Civic Center. I know what we went through at that time. My goodness, that was decades ago. Things have changed dramatically in our community and weve got to keep up to date so that we ensure that we have something that will last for decades more, and that we wont have to go back to the public for additional funds.
The people who you talk to today understand why we are doing this, and what it means to the community. I havent run into anybody who says no because they think its too fancy or too big.
The great part is that nobody we asked said No, I dont want to be a part of it. Weve got people from all walks of life today who are working on this.
FSP: Is there an X-factor?
GF: Yes, our police chief. Jerry is an amazing man, a homegrown product who knows what the needs of the community are. Hes the kind of person we can rally around.
FSP: Perhaps the building will have his name attached to it.
GF: I hope so.
Statesman Journal endorses police bond measure
Salem’s daily newspaper came out Sunday in favor of the proposed new police center.
“City leaders argue, and we don't disagree, that our community's police officers can no longer do their jobs well from the cramped quarters they currently occupy. For instance, the police department is so confined, equipment for the bomb team and S.W.A.T. are stored off site and space for the crime lab is rented. Victims and alleged criminals pass each other in the halls. Name an overcrowding problem and it exists at the current Salem Police Department facility.”
Statesman Journal, April 23, 2017
Snippets from recent letters to the editor
Support our police by voting yes on Measure 24-420
We are voting for Ballot Measure 24-420 authorizing $62 million for a new Salem police station. Working conditions for Salem police are indefensible.
Our police deserve offices meeting minimal needs for comfort, work productivity and safety. Support our police by voting yes on Measure 24-420.
Richard and Sydney Hatch, Salem
Statesman Journal 4-19-2017
Victims, citizens will benefit from new police facility
As Marion County’s district attorney, I urge you to support Measure 24-420. Every day I am grateful for the exceptional public safety services delivered by the men and women of the Salem Police Department. The quality of their work is second to none.
Today, it is essential that we match those services to a safe, functional and modern public safety facility. It will fulfill the demands of public safety for future generations. In my opinion, the justice system depends upon it.
The capacity to store evidence for court in the current facility is unacceptable and undermines the public safety system. The new facility will ensure that evidence will be effectively secured and preserved as required by law. Victims and citizens alike will benefit from the new facility, designed to be convenient, safe and respectful of their needs.
Please join me in supporting Measure 24-420.
Walt Beglau, Salem
Statesman Journal 4-21-2017