Investment well worth the cost

Readers of this paper will recall our support over the years for police depart­ments’ requests for additional officers.

They will not, then, be surprised to read that we think the Amherst Board of Selectmen, the Budget Committee and the people of Amherst should give their support to the request from Police Chief Mark Reams for at least one additional officer who will enable the department to better patrol residential neighbor­hoods.

The primary target: burglars.

While there is no cause for alarm – the chief has said the town hasn’t seen a great increase in home burglaries – homeowners should at least take heed and be concerned. The retail develop­ment along Route 101A, the chief told the selectmen and the Budget Commit­tee, has taken many of the department’s man hours away from the town’s residen­tial neighborhoods, which should be no surprise.

But as important as commercial areas are, the essence of Amherst is still its homes. They, and, of course, the town’s schools, are what attract new residents; they are what make Amherst a town to be proud of. Keeping them safe and secure is one of the most important jobs of the Police Department.

We know, of course, from vast experi­ence that the first reaction to a request for "more" of any resource by a town de­partment – and not just in Amherst – is, "Well, what about the tax rate?"

All right, it’s a fair question: When re­sources such as manpower are added, the tax rate takes a bit of a hit and tax bills see a bit of an increase. No one likes it, that’s for sure.

But …

If you are unlucky enough to be the vic­tim of a burglary, what will then take a hit is your insurance premium, not to men­tion the mental cost of dealing with the trauma of victimization.

Amherst is a tempting town given its wealth, its large homes and, in some cas­es, the isolated nature of those homes.

And if your home happens to be the one hit, it’s unlikely you’ll think, "Well, it doesn’t happen all that often in our lovely town."

No, when you’re the victim, it doesn’t matter if the town is burgled once in a blue moon: It hurts.

"Each one is a personal, invasive crime," Reams told the selectmen and Budget Committee.

And he was spot on.

And we think he was also spot on when he said this: "People want to see cops in their neighborhoods. They don’t want to see the cars down 101A all day."

Indeed.

When police officers are around, we all feel safer because we all are a bit safer.

The cost of an additional officer is mi­nuscule compared with the peace of mind it could bring to the neighborhoods and the taxpayers of Amherst, and certainly compared with the cost of dealing with a burglary.

When you don’t want to see a cop in your neighborhood is the day after you or one of your friends has been the victim of a break-in. You want to see him or her there the day and the night before, mak­ing sure no creepy thief has your house in his sights.

We know that town officials know this, but we also know they are the ones who take the heat when the tax rate goes up, when people wonder why the town hired more patrol officers when, gee whiz, noth­ing bad happened.

Yes, well, perhaps nothing bad hap­pened because the town hired more pa­trol officers.

Think of it that way.