In the Hunterdon County Democrat August 11, 2011 edition, a letter to the editor appeared chastising me for several offenses to the writer’s credo of how police services should be delivered. Unfortunately the straw man the author establishes is absent of facts and misstates my intentions and the statements of others.
I am not advocating consolidation of police services into a county run police force. Rather I am supporting a thorough examination of the cost of our current model of 14 separate police forces in their respective municipalities and the cost of alternative means of policing those 14 communities. This is in response to resolutions passed by most of the municipalities in the county and most of the municipalities with their own police force requesting just this help from the County government.
Once those costs and the savings, if there is any, are known, the municipalities can choose to move forward with making an informed choice. That choice should take into account, as this paper’s editorial rightly points out, the value of the existing level of service.
The writer also misstates what the Somerset model would do if enacted. The Somerset study would not create a County wide force but rather a single municipally run force. At no point, in either the model Somerset County is pursuing or in the presentation I made, for which the writer was not present, was it suggested the County government pay for a police force.
It is my opinion that police is a municipal function and should remain a municipal function. I stand ready to help municipalities work to find a way to meet the demands of shrinking tax bases, increasing costs and the restrictions of the 2% cap law. That could mean merging forces into one large force, several regional forces or keeping the current police forces intact. What should not be done is to force upon the municipalities and their residents a dictate, be it from Trenton, the County seat or the énarque writer.