California takes over policing duties for Long Branch
California borough officials weren't looking to provide police services for neighboring communities when Long Branch leaders contacted them several weeks ago.
But California Mayor Casey Durdines said the new arrangement with its neighbor is a good fit for both municipalities.
At the start of the year, California began providing police services to Long Branch.
Under the terms of the one-year contract, Long Branch will pay $1,600 a month. The deal includes a provision for additional fees if California officers spend more than 14 hours a week patrolling or responding to calls in Long Branch.
In contrast, Long Branch's set contribution was $20,148 annually when it was a member of the Southwest Regional Police Department. There were no limitations on hours of service with the regional force. The rate was based on calls per year, population and the size of the community, Southwest Regional Police Chief John Hartman said.
Sunday afternoon, Long Branch officials sent a fax to Southwest Regional's main station detailing the borough's intent to leave the regional organization effective Monday. Hartman received it at the start of his shift.
Southwest Regional was formed in 2003 by Belle Vernon and Newell. Long Branch joined two years later, first contracting for police service and later becoming a member of the regional department.
Southwest Regional contracts police services with Coal Center, Cokeburg, Bentleyville and Union Township in Washington County, as well as Perry and Wayne townships in Greene County.
Southwest Regional comprises 18 full- and part-time officers. Hartman said this week the Long Branch defection will not affect the size of the force or the department's operations or finances.
Asked about Long Branch's quick exit from Southwest Regional, Durdines said, “We don't have anything to do with that, whatever arrangement they had with them.”
Durdines said Long Branch officials reached out to California about “a partnership with policing” weeks earlier.
“This was one of the rare occasions where we're working with one of our neighbors and for the betterment of both of our communities,” Durdines said.
The mayor said California police occasionally have to drive through Long Branch to patrol or answer calls in parts of their own borough. For example, to get to Chestnut Street in California, officers have to drive through parts of Long Branch, he said. One side of Dally Road is in California and the other side is in Long Branch.
Durdines said that because Long Branch is a part of the California Area School District, students and some parents are familiar with borough officers.
“It's just a good fit for both communities,” Durdines said.
California employs 14 full- and part-time officers. With four full-time officers, California is seeking a fifth. One position opened with the recent resignation of officer Tracy Vitale, a former acting chief.
Durdines said California officials have had no discussions with other communities to provide police services.
“We're not in the business of shopping around our police services,” Durdines said. “We're content with how things are. We're going to see how things go with our neighbors in Long Branch.
“This is new territory for California, too.”
Long Branch Borough Secretary Lisa Gilotty said residents should continue to call 911 for police-related emergencies.
Durdines acknowledged he was “a little surprised” when approached by Long Branch.
“But we're certainly glad they came to us,” Durdines said. “That's a sign that the California Police Department is really moving in the right direction.”
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com 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.
- 3 men arrested on drug charges in Donora
- Woman accused of dealing drugs in Donora
- Octogenarian priest recalls his early days growing up in Donora
- Salvation Army honors Mon Valley do-gooders
- Preservation project set for I-70 bridge
- New Eagle woman sentenced for animal cruelty
- Questions remain in fatal Union accident
- Charleroi mayor updates progress on master plan
- Mon Valley towns hosting annual Halloween parades
- Trick-or-treat times set for Mon Valley
- Monessen pressed on sewage project