My initial reaction to reading Bill Torpy’s story this weekend — about neighborhoods whose residents pay a few hundred dollars a year to hire security patrols to complement regular police coverage — was frustration. Why is this necessary when we already pay taxes to maintain a police department?
But there’s another way to look at it. Paying an extra $300 a year is roughly equivalent to a 3-mill property-tax increase on a $250,000 house. Would I rather pay $300 a year and know that it’s all going to extra policing, and see my taxes go up 3 mills and know that the money could end up going to all manner of other uses?
The neighborhood association probably won’t charge for arranging the service, so there’s no overhead or bureaucratic cost. We get to decide which off-duty officer we hire, versus being assigned our regular beat cop by the police department — who might be just fine, but also might not be.
If taxes don’t also go up — and that’s a big “if,” of course — maybe we’re better off going the neighborhood security route.
Someone tell me why I’m wrong.