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Armstrong County towns consider consolidated police force

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Who: Regional police force committee

What: Feasibility discussion

When: 6 p.m., May 14

Where: Armstrong County Courthouse Annex, 450 Market St., Kittanning

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Thursday, April 10, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
 

Officials from six Armstrong County towns are exploring a regionalized police force.

Elected officials from North Buffalo, Manor, Rayburn, East Franklin, West Kittanning and Ford Cliff plan to form a committee to consider sharing the costs, coverage and legal ramifications of forming a regionalized police force.

Leading the effort is Dave Wolfe, a former North Buffalo supervisor and member of the township's Concerned Citizens for a Regional Police group.

“We're trying to reduce the cost of police forces by coming together and only using a portion of what each community is already putting toward their police departments,” Wolfe said.

The intent is to lower policing costs while improving police coverage.

Each of the communities relies on part-time police departments, except for Rayburn, which does not have its own police.

“We continually see police department budgets grow, with more hours put on the clock, but less patrols, which is a problem,” Wolfe said. “We want to just see if this is feasible to do. Then we can go before our own communities' boards and present our findings.”

Each municipality's elected officials would make the final decision.

Wolfe said if a regional department is favored, the committee would have to divvy up the cost between the communities, determine the size of the police force, whether full- or part-time officers would be employed and how police equipment would be handled.

Paul Rearick, vice chairman of the Manor Township supervisors, said joining forces with nearby communities could be the key to providing around-the-clock coverage.

“The idea is to pool our resources to get better services,” Rearick said.

Bob Venesky, president of West Kittanning Council, wants to explore all options.

He said a regional police force would need to present savings while providing better coverage than his borough's two-member, part-time force offers.

“I've got lots of questions and would need more information before we would commit to moving forward,” Venesky said.

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337.

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