Synchronicity in Warson Woods and Glendale
The city of Warson Woods in St. Louis County is considering contracting with the neighboring city of Glendale for police services. You might think that a government contract between two similar suburbs would be a routine thing for local officials to consider. Well, think again.
Some people in Warson Woods are up in arms over this proposal. It’s their city and their taxes, and they have every right to be concerned and ask tough questions. But the reaction, in my opinion, does seem out of line relative to the proposal. Warson Woods would not be taken over by some giant organization. The city would go from being served by a department of 6 total officers to being served by a combined department of about 15 officers, including all of the Warson Woods policemen. If you want to know the names of your local police (a perfectly worthy aim), you can still do that.
The proposed contract is estimated to save around $2 million over the next ten years. That is a lot of money for a city like Warson Woods. Warson Woods leaders have put together a committee to investigate the proposal from Glendale, and I hope it gets the careful consideration it deserves.
The people of this region have made it clear that most people don’t want some massive government consolidation. But nobody should reject out-of-hand smart changes to our government structure in St. Louis County. The idea that contracting with a neighboring city for police services to save tax money and improve services (more frequently having multiple officers on patrol will improve service) is somehow radical is unfortunate. It is, in fact, quite common. Warson Woods itself has contracted with Glendale for fire services for decades. The small, neighboring suburb of Oakland contracts with Kirkwood for police services. Nearby Frontenac patrols three other smaller communities adjacent to Frontenac: Westwood, Huntleigh, and Crystal Lake Park. I have honestly never heard anyone in Westwood (which is really a country club with a city attached to it, like Prussia) or Oakland say, “Things are great here, but it would be better if we just had our own police department. Those guys from Kirkwood and Frontenac just aren’t cutting it.”
I wish the committee investigating the proposal all the best. Few may want a massive overhaul of local government in St. Louis, but that doesn’t mean there should be knee-jerk opposition to smart, narrowly defined changes that save tax dollars and improve public services at the same time.