Ford City Council's police committee recommends eliminating department
Ford City Council's police committee has recommended the borough disband its police department in the hopes of slashing expenses.
The three-person committee of council members advised the borough rely on state police coverage instead.
Council Vice President Jerry Miklos, who serves on the committee with Scott Gaiser and Vickie Schaub, said there are no next steps in place.
“Our primary focus at this point is to get a public dialogue going,” he said. “We want taxpayers to be fully and accurately informed so we can make an intelligent decision.”
The committee outlined three possibilities:
• Contract services from another municipality.
• Hire a non-union, working chief and limit or eliminate part-time officers and shifts.
• Disband the borough's police department and use police services from state police at no cost to Ford City.
The police committee's recommendation, presented at Monday's meeting, will be distributed to Ford City residents, too, according to Miklos.
The dozen residents at the meeting did not comment.
The committee's recommendation said police force disbandment would provide more than $500,000 in savings. Those savings, members indicated, could go toward construction of a new water plant, infrastructure updates and “significant debt obligations that must be paid every year.”
A new debt may soon be added to the list: repayment of a $580,000 federal grant default. Ford City is working to address its repayment by Aug. 31.
“There's going to be some tough decisions made by everybody,” Schaub said. The borough, she added, is seeking input on the recommendation from borough residents.
The committee has been investigating the question for several months.
“We talked to some other communities that disbanded,” Miklos said. “So far, we haven't talked to anybody who has been dissatisfied with state police protection.”
Members of the Fraternal Order of Police Allegheny Valley Lodge No. 39 turned up at a June council meeting in response to rumors of police disbandment.
At the time, Miklos said officials had not yet discussed the matter. He did, however, admit the borough was looking at places to make cuts, including the police department.
The borough last year spent $550,000 on its police department. The force includes two full-time and 12 part-time officers. Ford City's total budget is $8.1 million.
Councilman Gene Banks was “strictly against” cutting the police force.
“If we do that, we might as well tell our citizens we don't care,” he said. Banks said that in areas where police were disbanded, crime went up.
“Once you leave this police department out of here and the visibility's gone, the crime will go rampant.”
Mayor Marc Mantini could not be reached for comment after the meeting.
Ford City's Officer-in-Charge Sgt. John Atherton, contacted after the meeting, said he was “shocked” by the recommendation.
State police coverage, he said, would not be the same as that provided by the borough's police because of distance.
“My concern is we're available 24/7,” Atherton said. “We have a police presence and that, in and of itself, is a deterrent to criminal acts.
“We have a three to five minute (estimated arrival time) — within minutes. That would be abolished.”
The borough's ongoing struggle with drug-related crimes was another factor he cited.
Property values, he said, may be hurt by a change in police coverage.
“I would encourage all citizens and business owners to attend the next council meeting and express support for the police,” he said.
Julie E. Martin is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
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.
- Armstrong man dies in single-vehicle crash
- House fire quickly snuffed in Ford City
- Samples show Plumcreek gas leaks aren’t methane
- Project Joy lifts Christmas spirits at Armstrong County Health Center
- Armstrong County adopts $20.7 million budget, maintains tax rate
- Officials get early start on NuMine bridge replacement planning
- Ford City debates police staffing cuts in proposed 2015 budget
- Kittanning man Yeaples guilty in 2-year-old girl’s beating
- Leader Times looking to share your favorite Christmas memories
- Kittanning website being upgraded after borough purchase
- Leaking gas found near site of earlier Plumcreek explosion