Rarely in this discussion do the potential merits, or demerits, of the idea come to the surface.The idea of consolidating 17,000 police forces into roughly 1,000 regional departments is quickly rejected as radical, unsettling, and not feasible for many reasons.Las Vegas and Jacksonville have successfully merged police and the office of sheriff into a metropolitan police force.Countywide police forces have been successfully established in many fast growing suburban counties.The two agencies already share the radio system, dispatch, training opportunities, grants and some investigative units.While consolidating law enforcement has the potential for savings and increased efficiencies, combining two agencies or contracting out law enforcement services could turn into an organizational nightmare.Granted they may have to ask a larger agency for help on some cases, but overall, the work they do is quite acceptable in the judgement of the public they serve. Given the above arguments, one could reasonably ask, "Why talk about regionalization--or consolidation--since the system we presently have seems to be working fairly well?
The percentage of Americans over sixty years of age is increasing, we are ethnically more diverse, and the numbers of youth in the 14-24 age group is again increasing.Third, our population demographics, our culture, our economy, and our values continue to be in a state of very rapid change.Our rural areas are losing population to the suburbs and cities.Giving up local control of a small police department would be tantamount to surrendering part of their independence, and identity, to a distant governing body oblivious to their needs and demands.
In some of our more affluent suburban counties, particularly east of the Mississippi River, there are an inordinate number of police agencies.
First, the idea of losing local control over the police function does not set well with most Americans who live outside of our large cities.