In the Tri-Cities, the latest example of such collaboration is the cities of Grand Haven and Ferrysburg and the Village of Spring Lake working on the possibility of consolidating police and fire services.
While the communities are only separated by a bridge and the Grand River, each municipality has its own police or fire presence. Grand Haven has its Department of Public Safety, Ferrysburg has its own fire department, and Spring Lake and Ferrysburg already share a police force.
A move to combine these resources would make sense for taxpayers with the potential for reduced equipment costs due to increased buying power, lower maintenance costs if vehicle redundancy was reduced, and the possibility for more resources available to fight crime and protect citizens.
The community public safety departments already collaborate on a smaller scale, so a move to consolidate may be the next progressive step.
While the idea may sound good on paper, the local communities should proceed carefully to make sure all angles are studied in great detail. It would be unfortunate to make a decision to combine forces only to have the consolidation lead to unfavorable consequences to the detriment of Tri-Cities residents.
The move to consolidate should only be made if local municipalities can ensure there will be no change in response times for emergencies, and no lack of police and firefighter presence in the different communities.
Also, if departments are combined, it must be a true consolidation and there should be no sacred cows on the table. This will ultimately lead to uncomfortable decisions on who stays and who goes, and potentially who is put in charge to lead the department.
The question of officer seniority and job titles also comes into play. All of these things need to be sorted out to make sure that the plan can indeed work.
After taking a tough look at this consolidation possibility, if leaders determine this is the way to go, residents should be able to sleep easy at night knowing that the best
decision was made. After all, the safety and well-being of local residents should not be discussed casually.
This is serious business, and our community leaders should give this serious consideration.
Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.