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Aspinwall police study suggests shared services

Tawnya Panizzi
| Friday, Dec. 22, 2017, 12:24 p.m.
Tribune-Review

Creation of a regional force may be the answer to the financial and operational struggles of the Aspinwall police department, according to a recently released study.

The independent state study of the borough police department recommended council take the initiative to share services with neighboring communities.

“Aspinwall Borough is painfully aware of the rising costs associated with providing basic needed services to its citizens,” consultant Harry J. Fruecht said in his report. “As a result, the borough needs to take a proactive approach with neighboring communities in adopting intergovernmental approaches to providing police services.”

Results of the 81-page study by the Department of Community and Economic Development are available on the borough's website at aspinwallpa.com.

Only two council members, Tim McLaughlin and Jen Evashavik, responded to requests for comment about the study.

McLaughlin said it's a great deal to sift through.

“I think the results will be very helpful to our new chief, as they highlight areas we do well and most definitely point out areas we need some improvement,” McLaughlin said. “Some of the areas we need to improve upon are simple, basic reporting issues.”

Evashavik said she still was sifting through the report, but would be prepared to discuss it once the new council convenes in January.

New members David Brown, Marcia Cooper and Lara Voytko will be sworn in Jan. 2.

Brown and Cooper each said they were given the report this week and also haven't had time to digest it.

“As a council member-elect I haven't seen the final budget,” Cooper said. “I'm hesitant to comment on the study because I believe the two issues are intertwined.

“It is my belief that our choice of police chief will greatly impact our staffing decisions moving forward.”

The study was free to the borough and its purpose is to improve the management of police services in the community for the benefit of residents, Fruecht said.

The study coincides with the resignation of Chief David Caplan, who served about two years before a faction of the community started to question his leadership skills.

The study, originally sought by council for recommendations on staffing, evolved into a review of the entire department, from pay to policies and training.

Council voted to approve the study when it became clear operations of the entire departments were in flux and needed to have standardized guidelines.

There are currently five full-time officers and three part-timers. Council debates annually whether to slot additional money in the police budget for new hires. About $30,000 was added to the 2017 budget to pay six months' salary for a new officer but council never hired one.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review. Reach her at 412-782-2121, ext. 2, tpanizzi@tribweb.com or @tawnyatrib.

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