ShareThis Page

Upper Burrell police go 24/7

| Friday, March 15, 2013, 1:01 a.m.

For the first time in its history, Upper Burrell has a full-time police force.

Chief Ken Pate said the last of three recently hired part-time officers finished training and came on duty this week, meaning the department now is staffed 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

“We've been planning this for a few years now, upgrading equipment and vehicles to prepare,” Pate said. “The guys have all the tools they need.”

Pate said the township police force was formed in 1964 but it never has been staffed fully enough to provide 24/7 coverage until now.

Previously, state police from the Kiski Valley station in Washington Township covered Upper Burrell calls when no township officer was on duty.

“I appreciate the state police,” Pate said. “We're still going to work with them with any assistance they can give us or we can give them.”

Pate said the push to become a full-time department began under his predecessor, Ed Kruse, who retired in 2011. Pate was hired as a patrolman in 2007, was promoted to sergeant and then replaced Kruse as chief.

The township has one other full-time officer, Sgt. Robert Speer. There are six part-time officers: Charles Lutz, Steffan Shaw, Philip Huth, David Endlich, Dennis Rupert and Chad Meyers.

Pate said one officer will be on duty at all times. The township will continue to work with surrounding departments, especially Lower Burrell.

Pate and Supervisors Chairman Ross Walker said there are a variety of benefits to having a full-time township department — namely quicker response times.

“The state police are (based) in the next township,” Walker said. “We now have police much closer. The calls will be answered very quickly.”

“It increases police presence, that's the most beneficial thing,” Pate said. “It's a better service to the residents.”

Walker said supervisors are pleased they were able to expand police services without raising taxes. He estimated the force accounts for about a third of the nearly $1 million budget.

“To hit 24-hour coverage is wonderful because we did it with a careful juggling of the township assets,” Walker said. “No increase in taxes, but a big increase in services.”

Pate said it will be helpful to have an officer available at all times for follow-up calls, rather than having to wait for one to come on duty.

Pate said he's unaware of any types of crime increasing in Upper Burrell.

Pate attributes an increase in township police responses to the fact that the force has worked more hours, picking up calls that otherwise would've been handled by state police.

“Like any area, we're having problems with drugs, namely heroin. We've had a few overdoses in the past few weeks,” Pate said. “And theft cases. That directly correlates to the drugs.”

Once the department has been handling all calls for a year, Pate will have a better handle on crime trends.

“He's doing a fabulous job,” Walker said. “We thought Ed Kruse would be a hard act to follow, but Ken's right up there with the best of them. I'm so happy with Ken.”

Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.