Monday, June 06, 2011

Local police force might go regional

The Morning Call ran a piece last week in which Andrew McGill describes Nazareth Borough's dilemma: support a police force with rising costs, or join a regional policing group and save taxpayer dollars?

If the borough doesn't seem to need it (since there's been no major police work despite staffing cuts), why continue to pay for it? Residents weigh in:

"I'm almost kind of disgusted," [one local business owner] said. "When you know the officer, when he drives by, you know who he is. I'll stand on the corner and wave to them."

With Colonial Regional, he wonders if he will ever recognize a friendly face.

Many in Nazareth on Friday agreed. They spoke of outsiders hard inflection: Cops from BETH-lehem, Cata-SAQUA [sic]. They don't want them here. Would you, they ask? Wouldn't you want someone born here, raised here, schooled here?

"They're what kept our town safe for all this time," said Fred Werkheiser, sitting in his Main Street shoe store Friday. "How far are we from Easton? And we're nothing like it. It's because of the attention these guys pay to details. They're a part of the community."
Anecdotally, I am pretty sure that BETH-lehem and CataSAUQUA's professional police and fire departments are staffed mostly with graduates of their own local schools, so it's not as if Nazareth has cornered the (Mitch's) market on favoritism (or even xenophobia).

However, assuming that police officers from other municipalities couldn't do a great job protecting and serving the community is ignorant. Implying that an officer raised in Easton might actually be unfriendly, wouldn't help someone pick up a box, or wouldn't pay attention to details is unkind.

In fact, an officer with broader experience may bring a much-needed perspective to the streets of Nazareth. Plus, it's not like Nazareth is hard for an outsider to figure out or find your way around. Residents have an opportunity to learn from them if they would be welcoming to new faces to the borough. I'm sure the regional entity would place former Nazareth police officers on their existing beats when possible.

I understand that change is hard, but if Nazareth taxpayers don't want to feel the impact of continued rising personnel costs, regionalization may be the only option.

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