I wish to voice my concern and wholehearted disapproval of the “trial balloon” which was floated at Tuesday night’s Fairmont Board of Commissionerss meeting requesting a study to determine the feasibility of disbanding our town police and fire services. I sincerely hope that the public outcry which I’ve seen displayed in only a few days on social media and through public conversation will only increase dramatically and eventually cause the air to leak out of this poorly thought out and very harmful initiative.
In addition to creating a sense of possible future insecurity within our citizenry, the request for the study has now added additional duties upon Town Manager Linda Vause. From close experience, I know she does not have time to undertake. Add to these unnecessary conditions the stress of an uncertain future for our police officers and firefighters and what emerges is at best a poorly devised revenue increasing plan and at worst the unnecessary manipulation of government services and those public servants who are a part of them.
I personally know of the statistics which point to a diligent, resourceful, dedicated, and vigilant police force in our town. Some of these have already found their way into the public’s eye and they, along with many others of their kind, point to a determined band of law enforcement officers dedicated to quick service and a reduction of crime. Any citizen is free to request any and all of these figures. They are public record and they tell a story of crime fighting and citizen service.
I would invite you to ask Chief Danny Parker for copies. He’ll be glad to share them. Then you decide if we have an effective police force or not. I’d also offer that the outstanding work of the fire department over the past several years has resulted in one of the highest fire code ratings in our state and with that a lessening of fire insurance premiums to both businesses and individuals throughout our community. These premium reductions have in some cases been hundreds of dollars a year.
In a democracy it is the people who are in charge, not the politicians. They never have been and never will be. You are. In fact the word democracy itself means simply, the people speak. I would suggest that if you live in Fairmont and believe, as I do, that it would be disruptive, unsafe, and counter-productive to disband our police and fire service in favor of contracting these services out to other agencies that you let your elected town officials know of your displeasure and lack of support in this plan.
Don’t be shy. Speak out. Let your voice be heard.
Charles Kemp is a former mayor of Fairmont.