Sheriff John Anderson’s suggestion at Wednesday’s Madera City Council meeting that Madera, the City of Chowchilla and Madera County combine their law-enforcement agencies is a good one and deserves serious study. Here are some of the reasons it may be a good idea:
-- Many investigations could be consolidated. Sheriff’s deputies and police officers often carry on parallel investigations of the same criminals, who may commit one crime, such as burglary, in one jurisdiction, and another burglary in a second jurisdiction. Crooks don’t know boundaries, Anderson and Madera Police Chief Michael Kime both told The Tribune’s DJ Becker after the council meeting.
“It’s the same crook,” Anderson told the council. “Just a different location, and it happens with burglaries, check cases, robberies, you name it.”
-- Communications operations could be combined, speeding up responses in some cases.
-- Turf protection would mostly disappear. That is the tendency of law enforcement agencies to protect their own bureaucratic priorities and territories from other agencies, a habit that’s normal, but which often ends up wasting time, money and resources to no good end.
-- Scarce resources, such as certain kinds of equipment, special training and special vehicles could be shared, both in cost and use.
-- Money probably would be saved, but even if money wasn’t saved, the quality of law enforcement likely would be improved. More emphasis could be put on crime prevention and special investigations. Experiments in cross-jurisdictional law enforcement, such as the multi-agency drug-enforcement team, show the value of such cooperation.
Finally, in some cases, cities and counties will combine more than law enforcement, but also fire protection, providing cross-training for people they call public safety officers who respond to many different kinds of emergencies. Something like that may be too far in the future to consider, but there’s little question consolidated law-enforcement is something worth investigating.