City, county jail study? Why not?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

In an Open Forum letter in the this past weekend's edition of the Gazette, Bill Frasier of McCook speaks in favor of a combined police station, sheriff's office, fire department and city-county jail facility.

In doing so, Frasier downplayed the objection of McCook fire and police officials, who contended that a safety center location outside the city limits would raise McCook residents' insurance rates. In Frasier's opinion, the objection could be easily overcome by annexing the area chosen for the safety center.

At this point, a location outside the city limits is only speculation. As the chairman of the jail study committee, Reuben Hoff Jr., points out, the committee has not yet discussed site selection. Even so, when you look around the town for available locations, an edge-of-town site seems likely.

Use of the East Ward site, as suggested by city public safety officials, was not received favorably by the City Council, with members expressing concerns about placement of the center in a residential area.

All the talk about a safety center location -- both pro and con -- makes it even more apparent that members of the McCook City Council and Red Willow County Commission should work together to come up with a solution.

The county needs a jail. The city needs a new location for the fire and police departments. From the outside looking in, it appears obvious what should be done. The city and the county need to talk, openly discussing their needs and concerns about public safety facilities.

It's possible that the process has already begun. At the Monday, June 6, meeting of the City Council, Mayor Berry acknowledged that he had received a letter from the Red Willow County Commission asking for City Council participation in a jail study.

Why not? Isn't that the way to solve problems? By working together, the city and county could come up with a solution of mutual benefit to public safety officers and the citizens they are duty-bound to protect and serve.

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