As municipalities across Pennsylvania trim or eliminate their police departments due to budget cuts, the State Police say they’re being spread thin.
Colonel Frank Noonan, acting State Police Commissioner, says more troopers are needed. He says State Police cover about 27 percent of Pennsylvania's population as the sole law enforcement department.
"They’re small populations. So that doesn’t look like, well, that’s not that many people. But they’re spread out so far. So it increases our response time to do things in a safe manner, and things like that. So that’s a problem. But another issue is now some of the larger communities that are facing reductions, not eliminations, of their police departments.
Governor Tom Corbett has included training money in his budget for 230 new state troopers, but Noonan, says the agency is about 400 officers below a full compliment.
"It’s my understanding that over the last, about, three years, there’s been about 58 municipalities that have either eliminated or reduced their police departments. I mean, State Police stands ready. We are the last resort. If you don’t have police, obviously, we are the ones who have to go in there and do it. But it does stretch us thin sometimes."
Bills in front of both the House and Senate would charge fees to municipalities relying on State Police protection. Similar measures have been introduced in previous years, but have never been passed into law.