Wednesday, March 03, 2010

PA: Supervisors Decline Regional Police Want Sen. Ward Option

It couldn't be any more clear. South Union Township supervisors have rejected to consider combining with other municipalities to form a 'regional police force.'

Instead, the supervisors have put their support behind Pennsylvania state Senator Kim Ward's legislative proposal.

It could not be any more clear than that, despite what might be said about the supervisors of South Union township being free-loaders by not forming their own police force, or participating in a regional police force, the supervisors consider the PA state police system of providing protection locally with a few tweaks to the numbers provided and availability and training adequate for their small township.

It's their decision to make on behalf of their own constituents who elected them into office and can de-select them come the next election.

There's the local newspaper hosting a series of crime forums but without benefit of any viewpoint opposite of the viewpoint of favoring a 'regional police force' initiative as offered 'for conversation and discussion' by state Representative Timothy Mahoney (D-51st)

What is the benefit of hosting one of a series of forums to consider the possibilities of dealing with local crime when entitling the one forum "regional police force" and having all of the panelists in some measure being supportive of only the regional police force and by the way, not inviting such as state Senator Kim Ward onto the panel?

What an oversight, right?

Don't invite a sponsor of a key piece of legislation to the panel discussing state and local police forces and regionalization to talk about another approach which does not include regionalizing police forces.

an approach that has already been indicated to be among the primary consideration of South Union Township supervisors.

And potentially North Union Township supervisors.

and potentially other similar sized or even smaller municipalities.

But it is obvious from how the forum was billed from the get-go "regional police force" and the comments of state Representative Timothy Mahoney, that the only thing to be discussed was the regional police force.

and the initial state legislation proposed to slap an additional fee on communities without their own local police force or participating in a regional police force.

Mahoney said that the forum Thursday was an attempt to get people talking about regionalization as a means to provide better police coverage for Fayette County residents, noting that Fayette County now leads the state in unemployment rate, violent crime rate and poverty rate.

“For elected officials … I think it is time for us to take the blinders off and start looking around for how to change,” Mahoney said, adding that the current legislation at the state level would not suit the county’s needs and would end up costing the taxpayers more money without providing any additional state police coverage.

Isn't it lying when other options are not even considered? Senator Kim Ward's bill for instance has been on the table for a couple of months before the forum, yet she isn't invited?

And isn't it with-holding information and thus also lying when one doesn't have a produced study which outlines in detail the so-called cost-savings of a regional police force versus a municipality choosing to opt into something along the lines of Sen. Kim Ward's legislation?


Net the Truth Online

South Union supervisors ponder police protection options
March 03, 2010 01:54 AM TEXT SIZE By: REBEKAH SUNGALA
Herald Standard

South Union Township supervisors said Tuesday they are continuing to research all available options regarding police protection and said state legislators need to worry more about increasing state police and less about regional police.

Supervisor Robert Schiffbauer said he doesn't appreciate legislators claiming that local leaders aren't doing their job and said it's the people in Harrisburg who have failed to provide ample police protection.

"We have legislators accusing us of not doing our jobs. But we're accusing them of not doing their jobs in Harrisburg," he said.

Discussion regarding police coverage came to the forefront after legislators proposed House Bill 1500, which would force municipalities without local police departments to pay for state police coverage. The proposed legislation would cost South Union Township over $1 million a year.

The question of regional police came under fire after state Rep. Tim Mahoney, D-South Union Township, proposed forming a countywide regional police department in response to House Bill 1500.

At Tuesday's meeting, Schiffbauer held legislators to task for the state police shortage...

...Schiffbauer said the township supports a Senate Bill proposed by state Sen. Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland, that would allow municipalities to pay $90,000 a year to have a state trooper assigned to patrol the respective municipality.

The bill, according to Schiffbauer, would give municipalities an option if they feel they need more police coverage than the state police are currently offering and said the bill doesn't mandate the municipalities to pay for extra coverage.

Schiffbauer said the bill would help municipalities who can't afford to contract with the state police by freeing up troopers to patrol the areas without a contracted trooper on duty.

In addition, Schiffbauer spoke out against any legislation that would have troopers assigned to the state's casinos.

The legislation would have more than 150 troopers patrolling casinos, according to Schiffbauer.

"It's a shame we're going to have more state troopers in the casinos than we're going to have out on the streets," he said.

Schiffbauer said legislators need to be worried about public safety and police coverage, but that they should be worried about increasing state police protection and getting more troopers out on the roads and not concern themselves with pushing the idea of regional police.

Supervisors Chairman Thomas Frankhouser said forming a local or regional police department could actually decrease the number of state police assigned to the Uniontown area.

Frankhouser said the state police are the best and that township residents deserve to have the best available protection.

"In my opinion, there's no comparison," he said.

Supervisor Rick Vernon said the township cannot support any legislation that does not increase, and could potentially decrease, the number of state police for the area.

While the majority of people attending a meeting to discuss regionalized policing agreed that Fayette County residents need to address police coverage and police needs, not everyone is willing or agreeable on how to fund it.

The forum, the second in a series of workshops designed to discuss topics related to crime in Fayette County by the Herald-Standard, in conjunction with Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus, was held Thursday evening at Penn State Fayette.

After opening remarks from panelists John D. Hartman, chief of the Southwest Regional Police Department; Dr. Lawrence N. Driscoll, a professor in the Administration of Justice Department at Penn State Fayette; and state Rep. Tim Mahoney, D-South Union Twp., the trio fielded more than an hour of questions from about 60 residents and local municipal leaders gathered at the event.

According to Driscoll, there are basically five options facing the county in coming years for continued law enforcement, including contracting out services to neighboring police departments, supporting one of the three proposed bills in state legislature for taxation or charges for state police coverage, attempt to form regionalized police forces, create individual police forces or simply do nothing.

“It (regionalized policing) is extremely time consuming and it is extremely complex,” Driscoll said. “It is important to the area and, to be quite honest, probably overdue.”

Hartman, who is chief of the only regional police force in Fayette County, said that his department provides police services for five municipalities, including Belle Vernon, Newell, Long Branch inside Fayette County and Coal Center and Cokeburg in Washington County.

“This issue has been very contentious,” Hartman said. “It appears to me that people are in a pitched battle over this issue and I really don’t understand it. Police departments are not competing…we are there to serve and protect.”

Hartman said that his own department was created out of economic necessity and has grown over the last decade as municipal budgets have tightened.

Mahoney said that the forum Thursday was an attempt to get people talking about regionalization as a means to provide better police coverage for Fayette County residents, noting that Fayette County now leads the state in unemployment rate, violent crime rate and poverty rate...

...The forum Thursday was part of “CSI: Fayette County — Crime Subjects Investigated.”

CSI: Fayette County is a sequence of seminars throughout the year that will address crime in Fayette County in an effort to inform area residents about how to avoid becoming a victim, educate residents on their role in crime prevention and discuss topics relevant to crime and criminal activity in the county.

Future sessions are planned to cover a wide variety of crime-related subjects.

Panelists will include law enforcement officials, educators, newspaper representatives and other local experts on crime-related topics. Additionally, at each forum, organizers will try to include some type of interactive demonstration to help engage public interest, whether it is a training exhibition by a K-9 officer, a demonstration on the use of Taser guns or discussions on specific crime topics that include visual materials or interactive aids, etc.

The forums will be held throughout the year, averaging one every two months.

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