Smithton police begin patrolling Sutersville
Madison, Smithton and Sutersville almost form a triangle, each nine and a half miles a part, said Smithton police Sgt. Greg Birkland.
The department began a contract with Sutersville Borough in January for 10 hours per week of regular patrol and has been in a similar contract with Madison Borough.
“There's a large amount of ways to get there fast if they need us to respond quickly,” he said.
After Gary Indof resigned as Sutersville police chief, the department in the borough of about 700 people was disbanded, said Mayor Alaina Breakiron.
Officials donated the late '90s model police car to the Sutersville Volunteer Fire Department and considered contracting coverage from Southwest Regional Police or Smithton.
Breakiron said they decided on Smithton partly because of the cost and because of the distance.
“(Southwest Regional) bid a lot higher than Smithton,” she said, adding that there were worries that some of the area was too far to reach Sutersville promptly in case of an emergency.
In addition to the 10 hours per week, Smithton officers are “on call” for the additional 40 hours when patrolling the two other boroughs, Birkland said.
“For their 10 hours, they get 50 hours worth of coverage,” he said.
The department, which has no full-time officers and eight part-time officers, will enforce traffic laws, respond to emergencies and investigate drug activity.
Breakiron said the patrolling officers are meant to “make their presence known in the community,” to deter vandalism and other deviant behavior.
Smithton police will not have a set schedule in order to retain the “element of surprise,” she said.
In addition to the communities it serves, the police department benefits from the extra income and extra hours for its officers, Birkland said.
“We'd definitely like to get a few more (communities under contract) if we could,” he said.
Madison Borough, which has maintained a contract with Smithton for three years, has been happy with the coverage, borough Secretary Pat Walt said.
“It's a minimum amount, but it provides a sense of security,” she said.
Birkland said no matter where they are patrolling, Smithton officers are well-trained and try to attend to each community's individual needs.
Smithton Mayor Christine Tutena said residents there appreciate the cooperation between the boroughs.
“I just know that it's good when these small towns can work together and it's not exorbitant for anybody,” she said.
Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-836-6660.