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Regionalization debate needs deliberative calm

Emotions are running high in Old Lycoming Township as leaders and citizens negotiate a shared police services agreement.

A proposal to essentially merge the Tiadaghton Valley Regional Police Department with the Old Lycoming Township Police Department is an emotionally charged issue as leaders and citizens argue over the need to insure safe streets and neighborhoods vs. the high cost of police protection and the heavier tax burden it creates.

Moreover, to citizens opposing the merger, the issue also comes down to a matter of pride and the community’s sense of individual identity.

As we have editorialized before, we support the underlying pursuit of opportunities to provide shared services, in this case, police protection.

It ends duplication of administrative and support functions, which can spread the cost of such services over a greater constituency and — if managed properly — can save money in the long run.

Also, shared services allow providers of our public services — whether they be fire protection, police or schools — a larger base of support so that public servants have greater means to find the niche or role where their talents are best suited.

We believe our leaders have a responsibility to look at opportunities on a case-by-case basis, to examine specific details, strengths and weaknesses of each proposal.

And as we said in May, any approach to regionalization must be thoroughly studied and any decision reached should come after a methodical, deliberative pace.

Residents of Old Lycoming Township on both sides of this issue owe their township and each other a degree of patience.

We hope both sides can listen to each other.

We hope both sides can respect each other, even when they disagree and respect the concerns and fears the other side feels — understandably strongly — about whether to pursue this plan.

Surely there must be debate over the proposal and people feel very emotional about their police department.

But that debate must be civil and emotions need to be measured.

Regardless of the final outcome, an approach based in mutual respect must be part of the process.

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