The police force shouldn't be for sale

I was dismayed to see voters approve a measure to sell advertising on police cars at the 2005 November 08 Littleton MA town meeting. The Littleton police department is currently underfunded; the advertising revenue will go for maintenance and replacement of police cars.

Some people expressed concern that this will lead to preferential treatment, or compromise the integrity of the police force. I'm not worried about that: I just think it is a very bad idea.

It has become fashionable of late to sell off the government to the highest bidder; however, there are a few things that absolutely can not be for sale, and the police force is one of them: it implicates basic issues of governance and sovereignty.

If this scheme succeeds, then the people who buy advertisements will be businesses in Littleton, and the people who ultimately bear the cost of those advertisements will be the residents of Littleton who patronize those businesses. So the issue isn't whether we have the money—we do. The issue is on what terms that money is going to be collected and spent.

The proper way for Littleton to raise money for its police department is for the voters to exercise their legitimate authority to lay and collect taxes. I realize that no one wants to hear that, but if we don't have the political will to fund our own police department, then this town is not a going concern: it is not a viable political entity.

The Littleton Independent, 2005 November 17

Steven W. McDougall / resume / / 2005 November 17