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East Deer wants study of possible police merger

| Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2002

EAST DEER: Commissioners will send a letter of intent to a state agency to look into a combined police force with Springdale Township's and Frazer Township, which doesn't have a force.

East Deer Commissioner Tony Taliani said representatives from East Deer, Frazer and Springdale Township met with a representative from the Governors Center for Local Government earlier this month. The officials looked at the pros and cons of other police mergers in the state.

Taliani said if the other two municipalities decide to do the formal study, it would take place soon after approval.

"Right now, we don't know if it's going to benefit anybody, but this is an ideal time to look at the potential," Taliani said.

He also said the study wouldn't cost any of the townships and would be done by a panel of former police chiefs from around the state.

If the townships do bring together their police forces, they would receive a state grant for the first three years to help cover administrative costs, Taliani said.

"We want to see if there's a possibility for us to maybe get better service and save money down the road," Taliani said.

He said this wouldn't be the first time the township has looked into merging with another police force.

About 15 years ago the township found that a merger with Brackenridge and Tarentum wouldn't be feasible.

"Things like this have been kicked around for years," he said.

Frazer Supervisor Lori Ziencik said the only reason the township is looking at a police department is because of the proposed $250 million mall project being proposed by the Mills Corporation and Johnstown developer Damian Zamias.

"We're leaving our options open," Ziencik said. "We'll explore that and many other things."

The township currently is patrolled by state police from the Kittanning barracks, but if the mall goes in Ziencik said the township would need more police protection.

She said the township may also look into agreements with West Deer, Tarentum and any other municipalities that may be interested.

Springdale Township Supervisor John Pisanko also believes the merger would depend on the mall, but he said he has an open mind. "Anything is worth looking into," he said.

"I'm willing to sit down and listen to all the pros and cons and see if it would be beneficial to Springdale Township."

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