Funding police force is a group effort

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 8, 2004

Tribune editorial staff

In a time of heightened security, it is puzzling how cities and villages across the nation, including Ironton, are struggling to maintain adequate police forces.

As state and federal governments continue to trim funding for local governments and, at the same time, issue unfunded mandates, the lowest entities on the food chain are left scrapping for crumbs.

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Ironton Police Chief Bill Garland's request for additional staffing may be grasping for straws considering the city's budget situation, but it is not an unreasonable request. Perhaps the most important function of the city is to provide police protection to its citizens. Ignoring that duty could lead to major problems in the future.

If our car is broken into, we call on police. If we are in an automobile accident, the police are there. If we are assaulted, we expect the police to help us.

In addition to the routine calls to which police respond, they need to be ready for the more serious crimes, such as murders, robberies, rapes and kidnappings. With only a few officers on duty per shift, it becomes difficult to meet all of the needs of the community.

While local governments such as the Ironton City Council, need to do all in their power to adequately staff their police departments, the state and federal governments need to offer assistance.

The Bush administration has cut funds for programs such as the Community Oriented Policing Services program and law enforcement grants that help governments fund police officers' salaries. Consequently, cities are losing police officers because they cannot afford to pay them without the federal help. At the same time, though, the government keeps telling us about the importance of homeland security.

Homeland security begins at the local level, and if the local protection is not in place, all is for naught. In the end, what we have is a double whammy - the increased need for services at the same time the federal government's contribution is declining. Taxpayers may be forced to pay for the additional protection.