Regional police study to end

After four of seven towns discussing joining up drop out, economics no longer add up

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times

PoliceMergerLong-standing discussions about forming a regional police force appear to be on hold, as all but three of the municipalities studying a merger of police services have dropped out of the process.

While Kennett Square, Kennett Township and New Garden will continue to explore options over the long term, the process has been moved to the back burner, Kennett Square Mayor Matt Fetick said Monday night. The three departments already cooperate closely, he noted, and will continue to do so.

Kennett Square’s Borough Council approved a measure Monday night to end its participation in the study.

East Marlborough, London Grove, Avondale and West Grove had all been part of discussions about forming a larger regional police force that in theory might have offered better service and potentially cost savings for some if not all of the municipalities. Other local municipalities depend solely on State Police coverage, although critics note a vast disparity in response times —  five to six minutes versus as much as 40 minutes in some cases — for those who do.

With four of the seven municipalities dropping out of the process, the economics of merging three three remaining forces didn’t make sense, officials said, offering neither a cost savings nor much in the way of improved police services.

With New Garden needing to make decisions about building a new police headquarters — its current facility has been deemed inadequate — there had been some urgency about whether the departments could merge in a timely manner. Kennett Township has been investing in its force of late as well — going from a one-man department under former Chief Albert McCarthy, to the current two-man department, with plans to double that to four officers.

Regional approaches to both police and fire services have been discussed for more than a decade with little progress — in part because of the complicated nature of such mergers as well some nasty, public disputes between area municipalities over shared police services.

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