Public Services & Infrastructure Goal 4
The safety of the public will be assured through the provision of a level of police and fire protection that is sufficient to meet the needs of the community.
4.1 Town-University Law Enforcement Cooperation
STRATEGY: Continue to work closely with Shepherd University to provide police protection to the community and explore opportunities for the town to assume a greater role in providing police protection services through a potential partnership with Shepherd University.
JUSTIFICATION: The close cooperation between the town and university on providing law enforcement services in the community is a major contributor to the town’s high quality of life. Given the limited resources that are available to the town and university to provide police protection, the partnerships that have been developed between the two entities enables them to ensure that adequate resources are available to provide coverage throughout the community with a relatively small force of officers. Continuing this partnership will allow the community to maintain the level of service that it expects while making the best use of the resources that are available to provide it.
4.2 Provide Full Time Police Coverage
STRATEGY: As growth occurs, ensure that sufficient resources are available for the town to provide law enforcement on a full-time basis without any gaps in coverage.
JUSTIFICATION: The growth that is anticipated by this plan will add stress on the resources that are currently used to provide police protection in the town. Growth will bring both an expanded service area as well as a larger population, who will all expect to receive adequate law enforcement coverage. Growth, however, also provides opportunities for the town to increase the revenues that are available to dedicate toward providing this service. As revenues increase, dedicating sufficient funds to provide a basic level of law enforcement coverage within the corporate limits 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, will help the community maintain confidence in the safety of the town and realize the benefits of the taxes that they pay to support this critical service.
4.3 Maintain Law Enforcement Mutual Aid Agreements
STRATEGY: Maintain strong mutual aid agreements with law enforcement agencies located in surrounding communities.
JUSTIFICATION: Given the small size of the town’s police force, it is important for it to maintain mutual aid agreements with other law enforcement agencies. Such agreements allow for the dispatch and response of officers from other jurisdictions to incidents within the town when local resources are not sufficient to deal with a situation without outside assistance, or the call volume exceeds the capacity of local resources to respond to multiple emergency calls for service simultaneously. Similarly, such an arrangement allows Shepherdstown’s resources to be made available to surrounding communities in similar situations as resources permit.
4.4 Establish Stable and Recurring Fire Department Funding
STRATEGY: Work cooperatively with the Shepherdstown Volunteer Fire Department to establish regular and recurring funding for the provision of fire and EMS services in order to guarantee the long term sustainability of the department, promote economic development, ensure public safety and allow the department to develop long range plans for equipping, maintaining and staffing fire protection and EMS services.
JUSTIFICATION: Maintaining a strong fire department is a critical tool to both guarantee a high quality of life in a community and promote economic development. A well organized, equipped and funded fire department with access to a sufficient water supply can help home owners maintain lower property insurance costs and allow business owners to receive more favorable insurance rates as well. A stable, recurring and reliable source of revenue is critical to maintaining a department’s ability to retain a strong organizational structure and equip itself with the equipment and apparatus necessary to fulfill its mission. By working with the Shepherdstown Volunteer Fire Department to identify methods by which it can secure a more reliable source of funding than the current structure that relies primarily on fundraising, donations and grants, the town can help to ensure that it maintains the best possible fire service to meet the current and future needs of the town and the community at large.
4.5 Include the Fire Department in Development Review
STRATEGY: Include the Shepherdstown Volunteer Fire Department in the development review process to ensure that necessary considerations for the provision of fire protection are incorporated into development plans.
JUSTIFICATION: The involvement of those agencies responsible for providing emergency services in the review of development proposals will help to create better outcomes with regard to the provision of emergency services following development. Giving fire officials a role in working with developers on their proposals will help to ensure that proper access is given to neighborhoods and businesses that will allow for the most efficient response possible. This will also help to ensure that fire officials are able to give input on the location and installation of firefighting equipment, such as hydrants, to help ensure that they meet minimum standards an best practices for the installation of such equipment.