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Police deal possible

| Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Could Carroll Township police be patrolling neighboring Fallowfield Township by the end of the summer?

That situation is under discussion. No financial figures have been exchanged, but the time to act could be limited.

Carroll Township Supervisor Tom Rapp said police Chief Paul Brand has spoken informally with Fallowfield officials.

Leaders in the two townships to eventually will meet to discuss the idea. Contracts have not been written and discussions have not been conducted about what Carroll Township would want in exchange for police coverage in Fallowfield.

"We're willing to sit down and discuss it," Rapp said. "We're going to have to know what kind of coverage they want. Are they going to want 24-hour-a-day coverage and what are they willing to pay?"

Carroll Township officials also would have to decide whether to add officers to its police force, which comprises three full-time officers, including the chief, and several part-timers.

Fallowfield Township employs three full-time officers.

A decision might have to come quickly or the opportunity to change could be lost, according to Fallowfield Township Supervisor Donn Henderson said.

Fallowfield Chief Bill Ritenour will retire later this year. Although the chief has not set a date, Ritenour has suggested he could leave the force by the end of June, Henderson said.

Meeting a summer deadline is possible, township leaders believe.

"I don't think it would be an impossibility to get something done within a couple of months," Rapp said.

Henderson said if the townships reach an agreement, a system could be in place in August or September.

By contract, Fallowfield must keep at least three full-time officers on its force, Henderson noted. Once Ritenour retires, the supervisors would only have a limited amount of time to hire a third full-time officer or make other arrangements for police service.

Henderson said Fallowfield couldn't require Carroll to hire any of its officers, adding, "But we would probably highly encourage them to do so."

Rapp said the two communities might be a perfect fit for such an arrangement. They share borders in various places and are similar in many ways, including population and road mileage.

Henderson said the two have similar numbers of calls and types of calls, and they come primarily at the same times.

Carroll Township has a population of 5,615 according to 2004 U.S. Census figures. It covers 13.8 square miles.

Fallowfield Township has a population of 4,346. It covers 21.3 square miles.

Henderson said he is not concerned with the square mileage that police would have to cover in the two communities. With only three full-time officers and no part timers, there are at least six shifts per week currently not covered by Fallowfield police. The community must, at those times, rely on state police coverage.

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