The Allegheny Valley Regional Police Department has been around for two months, and police Chief Mike Naviglia has no complaints so far.
“It’s actually been going very well,” said Naviglia, 47. “We’ve been getting a lot of good compliments. (People) are seeing the police cars a lot more. The officers like it because they have a larger area to cover instead of being contained to a little area.”
The regional police department is the result of a merger between the Springdale Township and Cheswick police departments. It’s made up of two full-time officers, including Naviglia, and seven part-timers.
There are subtle differences in the way officers patrol the communities now that they’ve merged, Naviglia said.
Cheswick, for example, has more businesses than Springdale Township. That means officers spend more time checking doors and making sure businesses are locked up for the night.
Patrolling the neighborhoods is pretty much the same.
“Police work’s the same no matter where you’re at or what you do. It’s a little bit of a difference, but not much,” he said. “We’re still doing the same arrests. Our numbers, in general, have not changed. Our call volumes are about the same. We’re just doing it with saving taxpayer money.”
He thinks merged police departments are a good idea and wishes more communities would consider them because of the money they can save taxpayers.
The municipalities are evenly splitting the costs of the department’s roughly $450,000 annual budget.
“It’s just basically been realistic to everybody to say: ‘We can do this. This can work and we can save money,’ ” Naviglia said.
The department investigates a variety of crimes ranging from domestic incidents to burglaries.
It’s staffed 24/7 and responds to between 108 and 180 calls per month. At least one or two officers are on per shift.
“We cover everything except for the major crimes,” Naviglia said. “Homicides. Rapes. We don’t have that.”
There is no particular type of incident that makes up the majority of the department’s call volume.
Naviglia said that helps keep his officers on their toes. It also makes them more aware.
“We’re all over the place on our calls, which keeps it good for the officers. When you handle the same call over and over and over again, you kind of get cold to it,” he said.
The merger process took about a year and a half. It included a study by the state Department of Community and Economic Development, which recommended the merger.
Before the merger, Naviglia was the police chief in Springdale Township for 13 years. He also served as the interim police chief of Cheswick.
He feels strongly about patrolling and believes it deters crime. His officers are out on patrol “all the time.”
“I think we’re very successful because we patrol a lot,” Naviglia said. “We try to emphasize on talking to people. We’re very community oriented.”