Regional Police: Police Mergers are the Trend
Regionalization of Police
What follows is in no way a comprehensive list of local law enforcement merger talks across the country. Some of the proposals may indeed make sense under certain circumstances. The fact that this trend is so popular nation-wide and very little discussion of this trend appears in the national media causes me to wonder if there is organization behind this. Most professionals at the local level are involved in multiple professional organizations. Some of these organizations are national in scope. One has to wonder if any of these organizations that are national in scope are infecting budget strapped communities into entertaining this concept.
The great advantage of local police departments is that officers who wield a considerable amount of force are neighbors of those whom they serve. This neighbor relationship acts to sooth tempers and intimate knowledge of the individuals involved in potential calls helps an officer put all the issues into perspective. Officers will be less likely to act rashly within their own community.
Regionalization of police can drive a wedge into that relationship. The bigger the force the less likely the neighbor relationship exists. Officers will become strangers to those they serve. Now, budget issues are real concerns and policing can be a big chunk of that budget, but communities should think thrice before taking this step. Surely, there are other less critical services which can be looked at. There are also ways to raise revenue by eliminating obstacles to economic prosperity. Perhaps a critical look at local planning regulations is in order. If a small community cannot keep its budget in check, I fail to see how growing the size of the budget through regionalization can lead to anything other than larger problems and less control. Let’s take a look at what is happening here in Pennsylvania and then some snippets from other states follow:
Bucks County, PA
Here in Pennsylvania’s Bucks County there are discussions over merging the police offices that service Doylestown Township, Doylestown Borough, New Britain Borough and Warwick. Chief White of Doylestown would like the other 5 departments that serve within the Central Bucks School District to join the merger. Those 5 departments serve: Plumstead, Buckingham, Warrington, New Britain Township and Chalfont.
There are also discussions involving Newtown Township and Upper Makefield combining police forces with Yardley also assessing its future as a result of the pending retirement of its Chief of Police.
Berks County, PA
Leaders in both Bethel and Tulpehocken townships in Berks County have approved a study to be performed by the Government Center for Local Government, which is a branch of the state’s Department of Community and Economic Development. The results of that study will most likely result in discussions in the 4th Quarter of this year as the study is expect to take 6 or 7 months to complete.
Mercer County, PA
Pymatuning Township supervisors are spearheading an effort to see if neighboring municipalities are interested in forming a regional police department that would cover northwest Mercer County.
York County, PA
Several York County police departments, including the City of York’s, could merge in the coming years. York City Council members have approved a feasibility study into the possibility of consolidating municipal police forces into a metropolitan department.
Montgomery County, PA
Officials from Douglass and New Hanover townships in Montgomery County met with a Pennsylvania state official on Thursday to discuss the possibility of merging the townships’ two police forces. Lower, Upper, and West Pottsgrove, have also recently discussed banding together.
Around The Country
AL: A committee has been formed in Etowah County to look at the feasibility of combining the services of the Gadsden Police Department and Etowah County Sheriff’s Office.
AZ: The state police and federal marshals are merging their special units.
AR: Speaking to the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce in 2002, Warren Stephens, CEO of Stephens Inc, suggested that a collaboration among Central Arkansas cities and Pulaski County to provide police, fire and other local services could produce significant savings for taxpayers and improve efficiency in service delivery.
CA: A Report of the 1999-2000 San Francisco Civil Grand Jury Summary declares that combining the San Francisco Police and Sheriff’s departments could yield some benefits. The study referenced mergers in NV, PA, TX. In the Los Angeles Area the idea of police mergers is really hot. I will link an article in the LA Times which describes efforts to obtain federal funds to study the issue. The potential mergers involve nearly 200 local communities.
FL: Members of the Alachua County legislative delegation unanimously decided to withdraw a bill that would have created a committee to look into merging the Gainesville Police Department and the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office. At a City Council meeting, the chairman of the city’s budget advisory committee discussed the possibility of merging the Port St. Lucie Police Department with the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office. In Warwick, Talk about consolidating the Florida and Greenwood Lake police into the single force serving the entire town has been occurring on and off since the state Division of Criminal Justice recommended the merger in 1990. GREENACRES — Just hours before city council members were set to discuss the possibility of merging their police and firefighters with the county, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw withdrew his proposal.
GA: A new House bill filed by Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, would offer city and county voters a shared government that by 2017 would cost 5 percent less than having two separate governments.
IL: The Peoria Mayor has floated a proposal to merge the city and county police forces.
IN/KY: One of the top law officials in Floyd County supports pairing policing efforts with New Albany. The merger of the Louisville Division of Police and the Jefferson County Police Department was part of a ballot initiative voters approved in November 2000. There is a Evansville-Vanderburg County merger plan currenlty being formulated. Marion County and Indianapolis police consolidation is already in effect.
ME: With police and municipal officials in both Waterville and Winslow citing the need for larger and more modern police quarters, some people are asking whether the two should consolidate. – Jerry Brown, Milo selectman, said officials are researching their options for a police department, including contracting with the county, consolidating with Brownville or the continued operation of its local Police Department. Brown, who originally suggested consolidating all local police departments into the county Sheriff’s Department, said it would behoove the whole county to look at the possibility.
MD: The Montgomery County Council has thwarted County Executive Ike Leggett’s plan to merge the county and park police forces.
MA: Martha’s Vineyard’s six towns would make large cost savings and enjoy a better standard of policing, if they agreed to a merge their six police departments into a single force, a consultant’s report has found.
MI: The Oakland County Sheriff’s Department has entered an agreement with the city of Pontiac for the delivery of police services. The sheriff’s deputies would replace the city’s police department. These efforts fall in line with new Gov. Rick Snyder, who before taking the oath of office last weekend, established a law enforcement advisory panel. This looks like a state initiated push for police consolidation. Muskegon Mayor Steve Warmington went so far as to say: “It shows in Pontiac that when the state steps in it makes the right decisions for the taxpayers.” Can you imagine that !
MN: Chisago City and Lindstrom combined police departments. – Mora is contracting with the Kanabec County sheriff’s office. - Over the past 10 years, 63 police departments have folded or were merged into other departments.
MO: Pine Lawn And Uplands Park Consider Police Merger. – A possible merger and consolidation of piecemeal areas of the Springfield Police Department and Greene County Sheriff’s Office: Taking their cue from the ”Safety and Justice Roundtable” Task Force.
NE: A June 1 deadline has been set for two committees studying the possible merger of the Scottsbluff and Gering police departments to come up with a final proposal.
NJ: Somerset County unveiled an ambitious proposal last week that would combine the county’s 19 police forces into one countywide department by summer 2013. – A proposed police merger between Riverdale and Butler appears to have been scrapped. – Randolph and Mendham Township have begun formal discussions on merging their police squads. – Lake Como and Belmar have ended discussion of a potential merger of their two police departments. The New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police has written a white paper dealing in Police Department Regionalization, Consolidation, Merger etc. There are more movements not disclosed here.
NY: Ossinning and Westchester County police merged. After the budget increased they answered critics with the excuse that the rise in cost would have been greater without the merger. – In Bergen County, Demarest, Clouster and Halworth are going to study the possibility of merging police departments.
NC:WASHINGTON, N.C. – A controversial idea to merge the Washington Police Department with the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office could come to a head tonight.
OH: Talks toward some form of joint Cincinnati/Hamilton County police force are over and the city soon will resume its search for a new police chief.
RI: PAWTUCKET - Mayor Donald R. Grebien has asked his police and fire chiefs to sketch out what shared Pawtucket-Central Falls police and fire services might look like.
SC: Columbia and Richland County are looking at combining their law enforcement. The Winnsboro Town Council discuss the possibility of a Town/County law enforcement consolidation.
UT: For the past couple of months, chiefs of the Woods Cross, North Salt Lake and West Bountiful police departments have discussed the possibility of merging.
VT: Officials in Rockingham and its village of Bellows Falls have agreed to bring a long-debated merger to vote.
WI: Shorewood Police Chief David Banaszynski made his case to the Whitefish Bay Village Board to consolidate the two villages’ police departments. – COMBINED LOCKS — A group of residents Tuesday greeted a possible merger of the village’s police force and Fox Valley Metro Police Department with a degree of skepticism. – Grand Chute and Appleton residents are dealing with a merger study.
Threats to Liberty: The Consolidation of a Police State
There can be no doubt that a police state is emerging in this country. One only need to look at the growing Home Land Security department, the illegal search and seizures at our airports, the TSA roll-out in bus stations, sporting events and rail stations and the continuing expansion of the military’s role in domestic policing. Look at theses patterns and extend the lines of logic out to a time in the not so distant future and draw your own conclusions. The threats go beyond the Federal level.
During April of 2010, the general assembly of PA referred HB 2431 to the local governments for consideration. It sought to make the County the basic unit of local government:
The General Assembly shall provide by general law for local government within the Commonwealth.
Such general law shall [be]:
Establish the county as the basic unit of local government, with jurisdiction over:
personnel; law enforcement; land use; sanitation; and health and safety.
— PA Joint Resolution House Bill 2431
As a result, the Supervisors of Doylestown Township unanimously approved a resolution opposing state-mandated mergers of municipalities.
Not to be outdone, Senate Bill 1357 was referred to the local governments for consideration. What was its purpose?
Amending Title 53 (Municipalities Generally) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, creating the Boundary Review Commission; providing for municipal dissolutions, incorporations, annexations, mergers and consolidations; and making an appropriation. — PA Senate Bill 1357
Clearly the state has an interest in regionalization and consolidation. What’s worse is the clarion call of Agenda 21′s Sustainable Development is embedded in the Senate Bill:
It is in the interest of the Commonwealth to encourage orderly growth and development essential to the social, fiscal and economic well-being of this entire Commonwealth. The formation and adjustment of municipal boundaries are important factors in promoting orderly development, encouraging sound economic growth, conservation of resources and efficient delivery of government services. — PA Senate Bill 1357
Indeed, the threats go beyond the Federal level. The state has adopted an international agenda on Sustainable Development. It seeks to regionalize municipalities within the counties in an effort to apply the sustainable development model. In my recap of national police mergers you will see certain entries bold and italic. Those entries are members of ICLEI, an international effort to implement Agenda 21′s Sustainable Development policy.
Local Newspaper Articles: (Links Fixed since Migration 11/13/2012)
20110120 Board Thinking About Regional Police.pdf
20110124 Yardley Police Future.pdf
20110207 Officers Like Regional Dept.pdf
20110209 Police Merger Wins Backing.pdf
20110210 Police Merger Moving Forward.pdf
20110215 Productive Talks on Merger.pdf
20110223 Police Chief-Join Forces.pdf
20110225 Grants Fund Police.pdf
20110225 Plumstead Police Chief Inquires About Merger.pdf
20110308 Warwick Committee Questions Figures.pdf