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Police regionalization study moving forward

Tawnya Panizzi
| Friday, July 13, 2018, 4:39 p.m.
Acting Aspinwall Police Chief Dave Nemec said he supports gathering information on police regionalizaiton but doesn’t think it is the right method for the borough. He thinks that a merger would be years off, if approved.
Acting Aspinwall Police Chief Dave Nemec said he supports gathering information on police regionalizaiton but doesn’t think it is the right method for the borough. He thinks that a merger would be years off, if approved.

All four of the Lower Valley municipalities that agreed to study police regionalization have completed a survey mandated by the state.

Aspinwall, Blawnox, O’Hara and Sharpsburg voted this spring to be assessed by a specialist with the Governor’s Center for Local Government Services.

The study is free to municipalities and is meant to dissect the policies, functions and costs for each department and also provide ways to improve efficiency.

“We’ve done all we need to do,” Aspinwall councilman Dave Brown said. “We are ready to send our paperwork to the state but we are still several months out from the results.”

Ron Stern, local government specialist, said the study is expected to take about six months.

Participation does not guarantee municipal approval to merge police forces.

It will highlight the perks and drawbacks of forming a regional department, Stern said.

Blawnox Manager John Stinner said he is eager to learn the feasibility of joining the borough’s small force with others. Aspinwall Mayor Joe Noro suggested that the study be performed in a way that would compare the borough’s current community-oriented style of policing with what he calls the “drive-by” style he thinks would result from a merger.

He believes the community would lose the personal touch that officers devote to residents, like walking around town and patrolling on bikes.

Aspinwall councilwoman Marcia Cooper voted for it and said it might provide insight on how to save money through joint purchasing or other cooperative efforts.

Brown said he expects public forums to be scheduled once the results are compiled.

Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tawnya at 412-782-2121, ext. 2, tpanizzi@tribweb.com or via Twitter @tawnyatrib.

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