Neighborly policing could be a help

The topic of a regional police force has been one that’s picked up steam several times over the years, only to go back down into obscurity a short time later. However, there seems to be real momentum right now for some form of arrangement between the towns of Ocean View and Millville that involves shared police coverage.

Ocean View Town Council will discuss at their June 8 meeting a request from Millville Mayor Don Minyon to “discuss the details of Ocean View’s possibly providing public safety services to the Town of Millville.” Ocean View Mayor Gordon Wood emphatically reiterated that this is not about a “regional police force” — simply a discussion to explore the possibility of Ocean View police helping out Millville, which does not have its own police department.

There have been concerns that this would limit the effectiveness of the Ocean View Police Department by stretching it too thin in coverage, and others who worry about the expanded cost to an already-thin budget in Ocean View. Some have openly complained before about Ocean View officers responding to incidents outside town limits, particularly in Millville.

“Millville seems to be getting a bad rap here,” said Ocean View Police Chief Ken McLaughlin. “For the record, we’ve never asked them for a dime. And if we presented them with this, they would gladly compensate us. They deeply appreciate what we are doing. We simply can’t say no.”

Millville has been paying to get expanded coverage in the town from the Delaware State Police. Neither the state police nor the town can afford that coverage to be 24-7, and the costs of starting its own department have been far too exorbitant for Millville to take on, particularly in the current economy.

Millville Town Manager Debbie Botchie emphasized that no agreement between the towns has been made, and that Millville is only “exploring opportunities to reduce cost and improve response time.” They are simply reviewing all their options, as responsible governments should.

We like this idea.

Millville residents would be better covered by a more local police department — proximity alone would assure that. This would also create the atmosphere that one police force would handle coverage of Lord Baltimore Elementary School, the two major shopping centers in Millville and the string of banks that run up and down Route 26 between the two towns. Also, Ocean View would be able to generate the funds to keep their force as strong as they feel it should be.

It is a win-win situation for the two towns, as long as they can work out the logistics and shared cost, and would further an already-strong relationship between the two towns.