Police substation closes in Chambersburg

Written by Vicky Taylor/Chambersburg Public Opinion | Jul 12, 2016 5:38 PM

Retired Chambersburg Police Chief David Arnold, left, Mayor Darren Brown, right, and a Chambersburg police officer, stand in front of the now former borough police substation on West Washington Street. The substation is now closed, but the department is keeping its community policing effort going with other initiatives. (Photo: File/Chambersburg Public Opinion)

(Chambersburg) -- An experiment last year in the establishment of a Chambersburg Police Department substation on West Washington Street was a success in controlling some criminal activity in the neighborhood, but in the end almost felt like a broken promise to the community.

"We just didn't have the resources to keep it open," said Sgt. Rick Morrissette, who was acting police chief this year when the decision was made to let the lease at 41 West Washington Street lapse and close the substation.

The substation was opened in April 2015 to a great deal of fanfare as a community policing effort. Two police officers were chosen to man the station, with the idea that having uniformed police in an area that had seen an increase in criminal activity would help deter further incidents.

Chief David Arnold, who retired in January this year, and Mayor Darren Brown saw it as a way to expand the department's community policing effort and help police become better integrated in the community.

At first it worked great, Morrissette said, but there were constant maintenance problems with the building, even though the landlord picked up the cost of repairs and was good about getting them done promptly.

In the end, structural issues with the building - coupled with manpower issues - led to the decision to close the substation.

He said the substation eventually began to feel like a "broken promise" to the community, and to the department's commitment to community policing.

The one-year experiment cost the department $4,800 just for rent, plus the cost of utilities, the telephone service and the building's security system, plus personnel costs to man the station.

"It was a good idea at the time, and it solved some problems for the neighborhood, but we didn't have the resources to man it around the clock so eventually that created more problems than it solved," Morrissette said.

Once the decision was made to close the substation, Morrissette said he began asking department members for input on ways to meet the department's community policing pledge.

"We needed to figure out how we could - within our means, our resources - meet that commitment," he said.

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