Lancaster County borough studying future of police department

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Oct 22, 2015 3:45 AM

(Columbia) -- A Lancaster County borough is beginning a study about consolidating police forces, just as the issue is popping up in more and more communities across the region.

The state Department of Community and Economic Development will run the study, at no cost to the borough.

It'll look at the department's operations - call volume, staffing and costs.

But it'll also evaluate whether some type of merger or consolidation with neighboring communities makes sense.

Columbia Mayor Leo Lutz acknowledges prior efforts that broke down.

"I think we're all starting to understand that if we do some of those things, it can be cheaper and lessen the burden on the taxpayer. Would it be beneficial to look and instead of regionalizing complete departments, maybe regionalizing specific operations?" says Lutz.

Lutz says one idea is to keep departments separate, but have divisions, like detectives, major street crimes, and traffic covering multiple areas.

Mayor Leo Lutz says they've talked to police departments in the area before, but talks broke down.

He adds: "Being able to point to the study and things that we did because of the study will no doubt benefit us.'

The state study will also look at areas where Columbia Borough's department - with 17 officers - could improve.

Dauphin County recently paid for a study that presents seven options for consolidating the 17 police departments in the county.

The annual savings from one possibility is estimated at more than $18 million.

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