We hope police, citizens can find common ground

We believe there is a potential for conflict in Fairmont over the future of the police department, with ramifications involving crime levels, response times, recruiting officers and public enthusiasm, or lack thereof, for the department and the city.

At the heart of the matter is the police department’s insistence that it is falling behind, that it needs more funding, with some of it going to more manpower. Fifteen full-time officers is not cutting it, according to those in the department advocating a new approach.

On the other side of the issue are many Fairmont residents who are skeptical, to say the least.

The police chief touts working collaboratively with other agencies on juvenile intervention, substance abuse, domestic violence and mental illness. All of which requires manpower. Without it, the chief says his department is being reactive, not proactive.

But skeptics, again, will ask: Is that policing or social services? And – perhaps recalling being pulled over themselves – they may bristle at what they see as an (over)active police force in what is otherwise a quiet small town.

Yes. There are definitely different perspectives at work here. Perhaps the coming discussion about proper levels of police staffing will be just the thing to get everyone on the same page. That’s one possible outcome. The other, of course, is a battle that may lead to a breakdown in relations and cooperation between police and citizens. We hope that is not the case.