Editorial: Don't abandon the concept of regional policing
By Richard Gaw
In 1925, former journalist Ernest Hemingway was in the last stages of completing his first novel, The Sun Also Rises, about a group of American and British expatriates who travel from Paris to Pamplona. In Paris, Hemingway labored intensely on the book and in particular, the last sentence, which was said to have been written and re-written 38 times before the author declared that it was, at last, perfect.
In the novel, Jake is about to return to Paris, when he receives a telegram from Brett, his ex, asking him for help. He finds her in a cheap hotel in Madrid, without money. The novel ends with Jake and Brett in a taxi speaking of the things that might have been but never were. The last sentence, "Isn't it pretty to think so?" remains one of he most poignant sentences ever written in American literature, and the stunning residue of an author's dogged determination to see it through.
For more than a year-and-a-half, several local law enforcement officers and elected officials have performed Hemingway-esque construction and reconstruction on the concept of forming a regional police department in southern Chester County that, if implemented, would provide round-the-clock police coverage in our community and enable these departments to weave the talents of their officers into a larger, more comprehensive continuum of safety. During that time, as many as seven townships and municipalities have, at various times, entered into discussions that explored the logistics of how a regional police unit would operate, the division of tasks and leadership, and determining the costs of running such an organization. In countless meetings, pencils were sharpened and re-sharpened. Preliminary studies were undertaken. Needs were assessed and divisions of labor were analyzed. Public input continued to serve as the vocal architect for the concept.
Gradually, the municipalities content to merely dip their toes in the water of exploration began to drop out of contention, influenced in their decisions by the voices of skeptical residents. Others balked at what they perceived as heavy price tags to pay for what would, at first, be a concept still in the incubator stage. Another township swore in a new police chief and then approved the hiring of three additional full-time officers. Although the tendril strings that bind regional policing to southern Chester County still remain, they hang perilously, awaiting free-fall and demise.
By its very definition and scope, the concept of regional policing in southern Chester County is too valuable an idea to be scraped entirely. Its policies and procedures have been sculpted and broken down and rebuilt too many times to abandon the project now. This newspaper recommends that the concept of regional policing merely be placed on the back burner of discussion, and that each participating township and municipality, agree in principle to re-enter negotiations at a future date.
As the southern half of the county continues to grow in population and in commercial development, it is imperative for our officials and our police departments to form a unified police force, one that combines the strengths of our community's best law enforcement officials. Imagine, years from now, our elected officials and police having the ability to answer the call for Need with the availability of Resource, by implementing a regional police unit that it spent years crafting and perfecting.
Isn't it pretty to think so?