The benefits of the Metro East Police District Commission are really starting to shine through.
When a community has limited resources, it's imperative that they be used efficiently and effectively. The commission is facilitating that by moving the East St. Louis, Brooklyn, Washington Park and Alorton police departments toward shared services.
Having one centralized dispatching center will be a huge plus. Not only will it be less expensive than if each department had its own dispatchers, but it should improve the departments' crime-fighting effectiveness. Part of the change will require every department to document crime in the same way. That should help police officers identify certain types of crime and crime trends more easily.
Other plans include sharing training space and evidence storage, specialty equipment and even specialized units to target particular kinds of crimes.
Less money spent on duplicate services means more money for the departments' primary purpose: Fighting crime on the street. That's what residents care about, not who is doing what.
Eventually we hope to see these four departments merged into one, but as Commissioner Roger Richards said: baby steps.