The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

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Opinion

July 13, 2014

Options should be weighed and egos left at SW doorstep

OUR VIEW — IN OR OUT? That seems to be the question facing every community involved in the Southwest Mercer County Regional Police Department.

There are a lot of options being considered at this time, but wise municipal leaders do what’s best for their taxpayers when it comes to both finances and safety.

While Shenango Townhip has made the most serious threat to leave the department that also includes West Middlesex, Wheatland and Farrell, there is still some thought that the best option for all involved is to maintain a regional service.

However, it’s no secret that city managers Michael Ceci of Farrell and Scott Andrejchak of Sharon have had meetings to discuss ways that there could be joint service for fire and police, just in case Southwest collapses.

Their fire departments already assist one another when needed.

Obviously Sharon and Farrell are more similar than the other municipalities involved in the Southwest grouping. Much of the criminal activity is similar between the two cities.

In fact, a complete merger of the two communities shouldn’t be out of the question either, but that’s for another day to be weighed.

Right now the key question is how to handle police.

While Ceci and Andrejchak have discussed some kind of shared services, Ceci in a recent Herald story admitted that if the Southwest department stays together “the whole thing might be for naught.”

And if Southwest does remain intact, concerning the discussions with Ceci, Andrejchak commented, “What’s been lost?”

Nothing of course, but there might be something big to be gained. Since there are a lot of options being considered right now, how about if we throw this one out to everyone:

What about Sharon joining Southwest and making a five-municipality department?

What would be the cost savings for every community? And since the state encourages consolidations, would there be an opportunity for a large grant to fund needed equipment? Or even to fund a special drug-task force to help curb a growing problem in every community?

The big concern is whether egos of various municipal leaders can be soothed to allow Southwest to remain together. There is obviously some bad blood because of the way arguments have evolved concerning funding and heated discussions at the Southwest commission meetings.

But there are a lot of options available to everyone and nothing should be off the table. Anything that saves money, while still providing good safety measures, should be considered by every municipality.

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