Police Coverage: Is 24-hour coverage necessary? 2013.12.24

Morenci’s three new council members, along with the new mayor, all came into office stating that they intend to support the people’s desire for 24-hour police coverage.

Morenci and Fayette both face the same challenge in this situation: a desire for 24-hour police coverage and not enough revenue to pay the way. It’s the same story in small towns across the country. Residents want a police officer on duty at all times, apparently regardless of the cost.

Fayette is facing many budget challenges and police chief Jason Simon frequently has trouble finding an adequate number of part-time officers to fill gaps in the village’s coverage as it stands now.

Morenci’s budget troubles are expected to grow, particularly when the personal property tax goes away, allowing Michigan to match the fiscal pain felt in Ohio communities after business taxes were cut. Everyone wants more, but they’re being given less to work with.

Aside from the financial challenges of providing 24-hour police coverage, we question whether it’s really the people’s will to devote that much of the budget to have an officer somewhere in town around the clock.

We certainly aren’t questioning whether that is what a lot of residents want; we’re merely suggesting that there are also many citizens who don’t think it’s necessary. 

We understand that many people feel a sense of security to have an officer on duty, but we’ve also spoken with people who see this as somewhat of a false security. One officer can’t be everywhere at all times. To stop an act of vandalism or foil a break-in is almost a matter of luck, of being in the right place at the right time.

It’s true that the vandal or thief might be much more wary knowing a police car could show up at any moment, but that’s not the way every criminal mind works.

Fayette’s budget for the next year is nearly set; budget work in Morenci is about to begin. We think 24-hour police coverage is a good conversation piece for citizens to have, and it should include talk about what to give up in trade for paying the bill. Let’s hear what you have to say.