Ed Miklus: Unified policing
“Sheriff sees opportunity” is the headline in Tuesday’s edition of Steamboat Today. Sheriff Wiggins spoke to the joint meeting of the Steamboat Springs City Council and the Routt County Board of Commissioners about exploring the possibility of a shared public safety facility as a cost-savings measure for both the city and county.
There is another imminent cost-saving opportunity that was raised during the public comment portion on the topic; that is the unification of the Steamboat Springs Police Department and the Routt County Sheriff’s Office. During that public comment portion, council and commissioners were provided with a source document regarding the recent successful unification of police services in Salt Lake County, Utah.
Why have two entities that provide police services to the citizens of Routt County share a facility and yet have duplicate and redundant administrative and other support services at a totally unnecessary cost to the taxpayer?
The short list of unification advantages is:
■ City and county taxpayer savings.
■ Increased operational efficiency.
■ Utilization of a pre-existing facility that was designed for expansion.
■ Elimination of duplication of services.
■ Having the chief law enforcement officer (sheriff) directly responsible to the citizens he/she serves rather than to an unelected city manager.
■ The city and county would be better served with one policing philosophy.
There is absolutely no downside to doing preliminary due diligence on such a plan. I believe that the county commissioners and the City Council would be remiss in their fiduciary responsibilities to the citizens not to explore this opportunity.
Let’s not nibble around the edges and go ahead and take the old bull by the proverbial horns.
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