With budget pressures mounting and expectations for police heightening, state troopers may soon need to call for backup.
Despite scrambling to fill 500 vacancies amid a surge of retirements, state police are still responsible to cover 1,290 towns full-time and 410 part-time, according to a Philadelphia Inquirer report by Michaelle Bond.
“This can’t be swept under the rug or ignored,” said Pennsylvania State Troopers Association President Joseph Kovel.
Theoretically, help could come from police force consolidation, but that has not been the reality in recent decades. Deterred by collective bargaining practices and pensions, Pennsylvania has seen just 40 merged forces while 961 municipal police departments remain.
“Regional forces make sense in many cases,” said Pennsylvania Municipal League Executive Director Rick Schuettler. “We need to look at things that make those kind of transitions easier.”
But not all local officials are amenable to taking on that kind of responsibility.
“We believe we’re already paying for this, and they’re just trying to shift costs onto the townships because they can’t manage their budget,” said Chester County’s Franklin Township Supervisor John Auerbach.
Read more about the state of Pennsylvania’s troopers in the Philadelphia Inquirer here.