Recently, an editorial praised the city of Augusta for hiring an outside consultant to evaluate and analyze its police department (“Augusta on right track with police study,” Sept. 4).

The editors applauded Augusta City Council members for “simply getting all the information they can to make a good decision.” Augusta is one of Maine’s 10 largest municipalities and faces one of the more complex public safety challenges. It is refreshing to see the press praise municipal decision-making.

Unfortunately, the editors couldn’t just compliment one municipality; they baselessly insulted municipalities that don’t undertake these kinds of studies.

The editorial said most municipalities simply muddle through their decisions without the benefit of hired experts. It bemoaned the fact that “every municipality” doesn’t hire consultants.

Using police departments as the example, there may be good reason why “every” municipality doesn’t undertake a $50,000 review. The majority of municipalities in Maine don’t have police “departments.”

The citizens in most communities have determined that the level of public safety protection provided by the county sheriffs is sufficient. Are outside consultants necessary to justify that decision? Recent studies have demonstrated that aggregate spending by Maine local governments (municipal and county) on police services is near the bottom nationally whether measured per capita, per crime or per dollar of state income. Maine’s crime rates are also quite low.

There are municipal issues for which outside expert opinions are necessary. However, for many local issues, the ongoing discussions that regularly occur among local elected officials, citizens and town meeting participants provide “expert” opinions at the grass-roots level.

Local decision-making may not produce something as impressive as a consultant’s report, but by any objective standard it has produced one of the most efficient and effective local government police protection systems in the country.