Ford City residents have spoken: They don’t want the borough to mess with their police department. Some at a town hall meeting Monday went as far as to say they would rather pay higher taxes than do without police protection.
The question now becomes whether council members will listen. There are a few truths to consider. A committee of three council members has recommended that the police department be disbanded for financial reasons. The council as a whole has said it wants to hear what the people think about the plan, ostensibly for guidance before making a decision about the future of the police force. And as loud as the support was at the public meeting for keeping the police, the 150 people who showed up represent a very small sample of about 3,000 people who live in the borough.
The council has a tough road ahead. If the borough cannot afford a police department, then it makes sense to do away with it. But if council members are to believe those who spoke at the town hearing, they need to find a way to keep the force intact.
It is easy for residents to say they would pay higher taxes to maintain a police force. The council should crunch the numbers, tell taxpayers exactly what the increase would be, and see what is the reaction when higher taxes become more than a vague concept. The reaction to real tax numbers should be all the guidance the council needs to make the right decision — whether that means keeping the force or letting it go.