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State Lawmaker Wants Municipalities to Pay Up for PA Police

Hundreds of municipalities in the commonwealth that do not have their own police departments can request state police coverage, and get it for free. 

State Sen. Judy Schwank (D-Berks) wants to charge for it.  

According to the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, an office of the state legislature, the Pennsylvania State Police provided full- or part-time coverage to more than 1,700 of the state's 2,562 municipalities.

To Schwank, that's too much state police coverage for free. She proposed legislation that would offset state funds given to municipalities for road projects and maintenance for the same cost of state police coverage.  

She hopes it will provide the incentive for municipalities to get their own police forces. Schwank said the legislation only applies municipalities with a populations larger than 5,000.

"If you are a rural community under that threshold, then you would still get state police coverage and nothing would be assessed against the funds that you receive from the state," she said.

Schwank said the charge to municipalities is not a tax, but an assessment that equals the playing field for all municipalities. She added some municipalities have opted out of their own police forces because the state police are required to patrol if requested.

"By doing this, we are ensuring that those communities that really are so large that should also have municipal police forces, will either do that, or will perhaps trigger them to look at a regional police force," Schwank said.

Schwank admitted efforts similar to this have been proposed and have failed, but she's optimistic.

"I really think as costs continue to go up, as communities populations increase, as they see crime becoming more of an issue, maybe something like this can possibly see the light of day," she said.

Last month state Rep. Mike Sturla (D-Lancaster) introduced a bill that would impose a per capita fee on towns that use state police for patrols.

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