Millville looking at numbers on joint policing possibilities

Ocean View and Millville officials this week confirmed that discussion of the possibility of joint policing of the towns has continued this summer, despite the cancelation of one planned meeting and a lack of externally visible movement on the issue.

In June, an initial joint meeting between the towns of Ocean View and Millville was held to discuss the possibility of joint policing, with Ocean View possibly providing policing to Millville, which currently does not have a public safety department. Millville had approached Ocean View about the potential of providing the service to Millville.

During the joint meeting, Millville officials stated they were interested in better 911 coverage, as well as police patrolling throughout the town.

Both towns ended the meeting in good stead, with the hope that some kind of agreement could be reached sometime in the future, if deemed possible and desirable.

“At the initial meeting, we had mentioned what we would like to see them do for us. And they told us some things they could do. We were waiting for them to put together a number and hours and how the proposal would be carried out,” explained Millville Mayor Don Minyon of where those meetings ended.

Millville recently received figures drawn up by the Town of Ocean View regarding the projected cost of shared policing, and Millville’s finance department is now in the beginning stages of analysis of those numbers.

“We, as the town of Ocean View, have done an awful lot of work to come up with what does it cost to provide policing service,” said Ocean View Town Councilman Bob Lawless. “We have done a very honest, diligent analysis of that cost, and presently we’ve provided that to the Town of Millville.

“We expect them to examine the books, and all of the numbers that we put in are verifiable – they’re part of our budgets,” he continued. “Where assumptions were made, the assumptions had been identified and a whole logic chain was established.”

The two towns were scheduled to have a follow-up meeting in July to discuss the figures presented by Ocean View. The meeting however, was canceled, and has yet to be rescheduled.

“The next joint meeting should be basically an exposure of the process to the world at large,” explained Lawless. “The background, the staffing stuff we did, had to be private. There was a lot of number-crunching and discussion that was very, very frank and honest, that had to be done behind the scenes. The numbers will be exposed at the joint meeting. They’ll be available, verifiable — it is what it is,” he added.

At the initial June meeting, both towns were adamant about making everything pertaining to the possible public safety collaboration “transparent” for their respective citizens.

“There are no surprises. There’s nothing up anybody’s sleeves,” Lawless said. “The commitment that we made at the outset was we don’t intend to make any money on the deal, lose any money on the deal. The constituents of both Ocean View and Millville will be able to look at this agreement, should we get to that point – and I hope we do – and say it’s a good deal for everybody; it just makes sense.”

“We’re very pleased with it,” Lawless added. “I have to say, [Ocean View Town Manager] Dr. [Conway] Gregory, [Ocean View Police] Chief [Ken] McLaughlin, [Ocean View] Mayor [Gordon] Wood did extraordinary work on this. Our finance director, Lee Burbaker – that guy can crunch some serious numbers. I’m very proud of my part in this. I think we did good stuff.”

Minyon stated that, no matter the outcome of the town’s discussions with Ocean View, Millville will come up with a strategy for public safety.