Harry Thompson: Consider a merger
September 15, 2013
As Steamboat prepares to spend our hard-earned taxes on a new police station, should we not consider merging the Steamboat Springs Police Department with the Routt County Sheriff's Office?
The current Sheriff's Office building was designed with expansion and or additions in mind and has adequate ground space to do so. The jail and Routt County Justice Center already are on site. Consolidating all elements of law enforcement in one location would allow for improved inter-communication and efficiency and reduce duplication of efforts and services that currently exist.
The current location of the police station would make a very convenient substation for an on-site police presence when required in the downtown area, for example, on busy weekends and during events and times requiring a more immediate police presence.
This type of merger is common in communities all across the U.S. The cost savings would be immediate and long lasting.
After creating a new, unified force, the savings achieved by doing away with redundant administration and clerical work easily could save the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. We have a very qualified sheriff in Garrett Wiggins, and he could very confidently oversee the unification of the two forces into a lean, professional, well-run organization in very short order.
This also has the advantage of our law enforcement coming under an elected official rather than one who is hired, and it gives the people of Steamboat — and Routt County — their voice, as is a proud tradition in our country.
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I am certain this idea will not be popular with the our City Council or city manager. I would ask that if they know of any reason why this idea can work in larger and smaller communities throughout the U.S. but not here, to please inform their constituents as to why.
I think the council owes it to the community to save our taxpayer dollars wherever possible — even it if means they must cede some of their powers (never popular with any politicians) to achieve an effective and efficient law enforcement agency while simultaneously saving our tax dollars — and be seen by the voters to be acting in the best interests of the community.