HARRISBURG (KDKA) – Budget issues could prompt hundreds of layoffs at the Pennsylvania State Police.
There may be some motorists that see the possibility of 400 to 500 State Police layoffs as meaning fewer Troopers out trolling for speeders.
However, a five-percent cut in next year’s department budget may mean an uneasy feeling for two-thirds of Pennsylvania’s municipalities relying on Troopers for protection.
Tom Rodgers, of Fort Allen, wants State Police there in a hurry if there’s trouble.
“I don’t know who I would rely on to protect my family or who I would go to if something happened,” Rodgers said.
Along with cutting 10 percent of the state’s 4,400 Troopers, there is a projected freeze on new cadet classes until 2013, the closing of five barracks and a hold on any civilian hires.
“Certainly any cutback would be of concern to us,” Hempfield Township Manager Kurt Ferguson said.
In communities like Hempfield Township with a population 43,000 with 350 miles of roads and 1,500 businesses, State Troopers provide all the law enforcement answering 1,000 calls annually.
“Until we have specific discussions with the state and with local legislators it’s difficult for us to assess what that impact might be here,” Ferguson said.
Because of its size, the second largest township in the state, Hempfield has also been the target of criticism for requesting State Police coverage.
“We stand ready to have any discussion with the state regarding that issue. It’s been on the back burner for a number of years,” Ferguson said.
There are a number of municipalities in Westmoreland County that do not have their own police departments such as Unity, Derry, Mt. Pleasant, and Youngwood. All disbanded their forces because of financial problems.
“I think it’s going to be very hard because we depend on the State Police,” Donna Ott, of Youngwood, said.
Youngwood has a population of a little over 4,000 and even with State Police coverage, the response time can be a hour.
It’s an aging community that would have a tough time affording more.
The department offers full- or part-time police service to about two-thirds of Pennsylvania’s municipalities, as well as complex DNA, ballistics and drug testing services.