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Host: Scott LaMar

State Troopers Policing Municipalities

Written by Rich Copeland - Producer, Smart Talk | Dec 15, 2016 3:00 AM
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In Pennsylvania, more than half of the 2,562 municipalities have no police force.  In these 1,287 communities, the State Police step in to conduct criminal investigations, patrol the streets, and enforce traffic codes. 

The municipalities pay nothing for the law enforcement protection but receive half of the revenue generated from traffic citations.  While this includes some rural communities, Hempfield Township outside of Pittsburgh (with a population of 43,000) relies on State Police coverage.  The residents of Lower Macungie Township have a median household income of $80,000, but their community pays nothing for the State Police to protect them.

A 2012 report by Penn State's Justice Center for Research estimated the State Police spends nearly half its annual budget on municipal policing.  Last year, state Representative Mike Sturla (D-96th) sponsored a bill that would have charged municipalities a $156 per capita fee to cover the costs of the State Police coverage as well as generate transportation revenue.  The bill died in committee, but will be re-introduced in the next session.

David Sanko, executive director of the Pennsylvania State Association of Townships Supervisors, has expressed opposition to the fees, saying it would create an undue financial burden on the municipalities.

Sturla and Sanko will join WITF's Smart Talk to discuss the proposal.  Also, Joe Kovel, President of the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association, will talk about the impact this policing of municipalities is having on the agency.

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State Representative Mike Sturla (D-Lancaster) / Corporal Joe Kovel - President, Pennsylvania State Troopers Association / Dave Sanko - Executive Director, Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors

EMAILS

- I recall reading the annual tab for state police rural patrolling is $600 million.

How many citizens (by residency locale) are covered in the rural patrolling?   

Each state citizen (adult or child, regardless of where they live) is paying roughly $50 per year for this service.   I would be happy if rural citizens paid half of the $600 million outright, and that would eliminate half of the projected $600 million deficit the budget secretary projects for 2016-2017.  

We're not necessarily talking "poor" rural areas here either.  

Locally:  West Hanover Township receives rural patrolling.             - Rick, Harrisburg

- I live in a rural Lancaster County township that just does happen to have our own local police force.  Our township force is also used by a small neighboring borough for their police needs.  Our township has reached out to adjacent rural townships without police to try to create a cost-effective regional force, but have been met with resistance.  The latest report by Lancaster County Drug Task Force clearly shows that major drug activity is occurring in some of our neighboring rural townships who do not have local police.  Why are these rural townships so opposed to participating in a regional force?  They should be forced to pay more for state police services as their lack of local policing contributes to regional crime and raises costs for neighboring local townships in spillover crime.                  -  Lisa, East Earl Township

- South Middleton Township doesn't have a police force, but I believe it wasn't too long ago that they approved somewhere around 4 million dollars to fix up their parks...           - Robert

- A couple of points:

1) Larger communities, such as good sized boroughs are also bailing out of local police service and going with the State Police.

2) If local governments can't provide basic police and/or fire protection, why do they even exist? Merge them with other communities that also can't provide police.                - Lee, York

- I think beefing up PSP is short sighted considering the rapid introduction of self driving vehicles.  With this technology, traffic accidents and violations will be hugely diminished.       - Dave, Harrisburg

- I'd just like to say that those of us who live in Lancaster City, paying for both city and state police, would like smooth roads and sturdy bridges, too.                               - Fran, Lancaster

- I agree that municipalities need to pay for PSP coverage. My concern is that if the costs are too high some municipalities will seek coverage from a neighboring jurisdiction that may have a force that is not highly professional/trained. I live in Dickinson Township and the last thing I want to see is the Mount Holly Springs PD patrolling my town.               - John

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