The Kennebec Journal today ran an interesting story on the plight of small towns and their agonizing decision as to whether or not to maintain a town police force: Smaller-Town Police Efforts Under Gun.
It’s a debate that some Maine towns, including similar sized towns of Madison and Monmouth, are having due to tight budgets: Should small-town police departments be replaced by other law enforcement agencies to save taxpayers money?
Some residents have decided to cut town police department budgets, while others have voted to contract with county sheriff’s departments for public safety protection.
Adkins was worried about losing familiarity with police officers if Wilton went elsewhere for its public safety needs, either from county sheriff’s deputies or state police . . .
Moores said crime would increase and response times would lengthen if other law enforcement agencies took over for the town police department, which provides 24-hours per day protection for about 4,800 residents.
When asked about the impact of cutting the police department, he said, “I can assure you that our criminal mischief and vandalism in town would skyrocket.”
Do read the whole thing as the quote above is a bit choppy since the article is rather lengthy and difficult to summarize because it is full of informative anecdotes.
We also sense a larger problem not mentioned in the article and that is the aging of the population in the more rural parts of Maine. These older folks are living, as a general rule, on fixed income. As a result, they become more sensitive to the property tax rate.
At the same time, a higher number of older people may actually invite crime since criminals may feel emboldened by knowing many folks in the area are elderly. The long-term answer is to attract more young families to the area . . . of which safety is an utmost consideration. Yes, this appears to be a catch-22 situation.