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Editorial: Salisbury needs its own police force

In 2010, Salisbury’s two-man police force quit, citing a hostile working environment. Since then, residents have relied on state police and neighboring towns to respond to traffic accidents and all complaints, great and small. The time has come for voters to put an end to this public safety experiment.

As residents throughout New Hampshire become more and more vocal about rising property taxes, the urge to cut budgets grows. There is little doubt that in Salisbury, spending $12,000 to cover dispatch, outside details and the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program looked significantly more attractive than $64,000 to reinstate the police department. But there are social costs to consider, too.

Earlier this year, Hill Police Chief David Kratz explained it to the Monitor this way: “I think local departments get to know the characters, you build a little trust and you can do a lot of preventative law enforcement that doesn’t come from a purely reactive police department.”

State police try to make connections with residents and business owners in Salisbury, but there is no substitute for a police officer who is fully invested in the community. When an officer is a familiar and friendly face, residents feel more empowered to pass on tips and raise concerns – and children who have a personal relationship with the police are more likely to respect and appreciate the work they do.

To rely on the state police is also to tempt fate in terms of response times. What if there was a significant public safety issue in Salisbury at the same time as a major incident on Interstate 93 between Exits 16 and 17? It’s not difficult to imagine a perfect storm of events that would leave Salisbury with a gap in coverage.

The problem with many budget cuts is there is a tremendous amount of finger-crossing. The next time Salisbury voters are presented with a proposal to reinstate the police department, they would be wise to run through worst-case scenarios instead of embracing a “so far, so good” mentality.

If voters can’t justify a police force for a population of less than 1,400, they should at the very least explore a regional police force with neighboring towns. While not an ideal solution, it would still be preferable to the “Who’s available?” method of policing the town has now.

New Hampshire communities have no problem rising up against physical threats to rural charm, but there is much less outrage when it comes to the erosion of the social components of small-town life, like the loss of a police force. The state’s tax structure is a heavy burden on homeowners, but residents of Salisbury and other small communities need to look at the whole picture when making decisions about what they no longer need.

Legacy Comments16

This is certainly a debatable issue for small towns. I grew up and lived for many years in Andover next door. There is something to be said for a local officer who knows the community and how it thinks. Just for the record I live in Concord now,but my youngest son recently served as selectman in Andover for 6 years. Andover was lucky for many many years to have this kind of officer. Back in the 60s and 70s he was the only officer in town and he served into the 90s. ( I am in no way criticizing the existing police department. I believe they continue to try to reflect this philosophy) The officer in question rarely arrested anybody because he had the knack of defusing the situation because he knew people and families . Many long time residents will know who I am talking about. There is more than a little deterrent as a kid growing up to get into mischief and find out your parents knew about it before you got home!! When kids would be out partying he would either send them home or actually put them in his car and take them home. The population then in Andover was similar to what Salisbury is now. Its just my opinion but there is a great deal to be said in favor a local police force that knows and understands its community.

Not sure the Sheriff Andy, "Awww...theyz just kids" approach would work with today's crop. That was then and this is now. Find it interesting that not just one, but TWO officers quit; the entire Salisbury force. That in itself says something.

The residents of Salisbury did look at the "whole" picture. $64,000.00 would have reestablished a part time police department (40 hrs. per week) and provided coverage for "24%" of the time. The State Police would then cover Salisbury for 76% of the time. Is this writer suggesting that it is alright to "cross your fingers" for 76% of the time, but certainly not 100% of the time.

I guess I would be curious to know what the writer knows about Salisbury. I believe the writer would be hard pressed to find a police chief that would not be opposed to Salisbury not having a local department. The writer fails to mention many of the small towns that have ongoing problems with local police chiefs. As for the "so far so good" comment, the writer should have looked for "data" to substantiate their claims. I did not see any "data" in this article, just an opinion, to which everyone is entitled.

Salisbury has it right and this editor somewhat has it right. Regionalization is the way to go on this and other government services. What the editor misses is that $64,000.00 won't buy much more "service" than $12,000.00 will. Who is to predict that anything will happen when this part time police force happens to be on duty? How much police can we afford??? The Boscawen budget shows $473,366.00 for the police department, BUT when benefits are added in, such as police retirement, workman's comp, health insurance, etc, the real number is closer to $630,000. Not only that, state police raid the highway fund; I call it highway robbery, and who knows what the sheriff's budget is? We are paying for all three layers of police. Ontario has it right. They regionalized all police functions, except in the larger cities, and it works, and they did the same thing with road maintenance.

What about hiring a marshall to clean up the mean streets of Salisbury? My hat's in the ring. -Jim Duncan

Each of us has our own opinion on an issue which is the way it is supposed to be. The voters in Salisbury at the 2014 Town Meeting voted down a police force. But the other side cannot take NO for an answer. Back in 2009 when Salisbury had a local "Police Force" I know a person that had a life threatening accident, in fact the accident was so serious that the person's heart stopped beating at the hospital and was brought back to life. This person at the time of the accident dialed 911 and it took 26 minutes for the "Salisbury town police officer" to show up. So much for "response time." Whether the town of Salisbury has "local police" or not if I have a problem, I will call the State police.

How long did it take for an ambulance - that's the important time. For 1 person to be everywhere in a small town is a bit unreasonable. Better that the one officer just sits in an office and waits for calls like Goober Pyle suggests in another comment. Some Webster residents tried this type of thinking but calmer heads prevailed.

QUOTE "police FORCE". This liberal rag tries to sell the need for a "FORCE". HEADLINES: Pollster John Zogby reports in our weekly White House report card that President Obama is no longer seen as an agent of change, but the boss of an oppressive national security state. Keep up the good work liberals . What America needs is more of the likes of Sheriff Andy Taylor and less in your face liberal gestapo life.

Get over yourself. Andy was a made up fictional yokel, in a made up fictional world. Leave it to some to call on fictional characters to come to the rescue. It's been called a police force for time immemorial, why now is it suddenly a FORCE. Think on one thing for more than a second, even the phrase "...in your face liberal gestapo life." These words together have no meaning, a liberal gestapo, really how does that work.

If you don't think there is a massive combat mentality in the enforcement world then you are impervious to reality and by default a LIDV

A massive combat mentality in the Andover, Webster, Salisbury (previous to the craziness) and most other small towns?? Which state are we talking about? I guess you are correct I must be a Levelheaded Intelligent Democratic Voter. You on the other hand defy logical classification, perhaps an IINO. I will toss you one bone though, there are a great many police officers that are military reserve or ex military. To most that equates to being hero's, you apparently see that as a threat.

Hey PBR, I just read that the Boscawen PD held an indoctrination session with a local Daisey Troop. Best get on this before they are too late to save. Didn't realize how devious they are.........................

silly girls - they dont even have a Bearcat to see. If they go to the post Office they can see their swat team.

"We gotta nip it in the bud, Ange. Nip! Nip! Nip!" / Deputy Barney Fife

Oh c'mon, GC. You tellin' me you'd refuse a visit from The Darlings? Some good-time jug band music, and Charlene sitting on your lap? With a little luck maybe she'd spy an owl in the tree during a full moon. Eh???

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