City police in the midst of a positive battery of changes

The winds of change are blowing hard in the Williamsport Police Department.

Police Chief David J. Young, hired in the spring, has restructured the bureau with an eye toward getting more patrolmen on the street and in cruisers. A new collective bargaining agreement appears close to being finalized prior to expiration of the current one Dec. 31. And, as retirements of older personnel have been ongoing for the past few years, the bureau has become much younger.

In our view, these are all developments that put the bureau in the best position in several years to keep the city safe and solve crimes.

We are particularly encouraged by Chief Young’s structural changes, similar to a military plan. He has eliminated the assistant chief and deputy chief positions, leaving two police captains below him.

The purpose of the changes is to reduce costs and get more officers onto the streets in patrol cars. The ultimate goal is to have the personnel in the patrol cars interacting with the community at events, in parks, playgrounds, at summer programs, block parties and parades.

This plan matches what residents want – more police presence, with an emphasis on rank-and-file patrolmen rather than heavy administration.

If Chief Young believes he has enough administrative capability with this structure and can put more patrolmen on the street, we are all for it.

Chief Young describes his force as “young, committed and proactive.” It likely will get younger after the beginning of 2017, when the retirements of former Chief Gregory A. Foresman and Agent Raymond O. Kontz III become official.

A younger force also suits the priority of quick response to everything from drug incidents to the needs of victims of crime.

It’s a solid plan on paper that hopefully will be bolstered by a new labor agreement. Both the administration and union leaders have expressed a resolve to get that done before the current one expires at the end of the year.

Residents should feel encouraged by all these developments.

They also need to keep in mind that their police force is the only element that stands between peace and potential chaos on our streets and in our neighborhoods.