Editorial: Regional police show real small government
While other municipalities in Pennsylvania are trying to find ways to work together on a DUI task force, two municipalities are joining forces.
That’s not a metaphor. Springdale Township and Cheswick created the Allegheny Valley Regional Police Department. The eight-member force started patrolling Monday.
There is a lot about this that’s good, not the least of which is that a lot of people are going to have law enforcement that understands their area and locally passed ordinances. State police can’t be expected to keep a running account of every new law passed in every municipality in Pennsylvania.
And that’s what brings us to the best thing about this: consolidation.
Pennsylvania is buckshot with government entities. Forget about the state. Forget about the 67 counties. Look at everything below that level.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 Census of Governments, there are 4,830 government bodies in Pennsylvania. Of those, 2,625 are things like cities, boroughs and townships. Another 2,205 are school districts, water authorities, etc. Make that probably 2,206 since the Allegheny Valley Regional Police Commission didn’t exist in 2017.
How many of those do we need? Not that we don’t need the jobs they are all doing, because we probably do. But how much overlap is there that could be picked up by someone already doing that job?
It’s not just Pennsylvania as a whole. Governing.com puts the Pittsburgh metro area as the U.S. location most choked by pebbles of “general purpose” governments like municipalities, with 463 little fiefdoms.
Talk to legislators and leaders privately and they agree that consolidation could solve a lot of problems, including saving taxpayers money by reducing redundancy. But many political figures are also loathe to let go of their own corners of influence.
Small government doesn’t have to mean a mountain of microgovernments. Small government should be the fewest entities to get the job done efficiently.
Cheswick and Springdale Township have done something many haven’t. They put the job above the title, and the work before the authority. Rather than keep an independent department they couldn’t afford or close the doors on a service the community needed, they joined hands and joined forces.