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Franklin weighing police costs

Published August 20. 2014 10:02AM

Police protection costs continue to rise in Franklin Township, and supervisors are trying to figure out what to do about it.

Supervisors budgeted $727,584 for police protection for 2014.

However, chairman Rod Green said that costs for police protection is more than 25 percent of the budget.

"Costs for police have doubled since I became a supervisor," Green said. He has been a supervisor since 2000.

In 2014, the township anticipated $4.2 million in revenues, with $1.18 million expected from taxes.

A year earlier in 2013, supervisors had budgeted $689,278 for police protection, including vehicles, salaries, office expenses and pensions.

Green said that each year the township has to increase the budget for police projection, while the road budget has not seen an increase.

Franklin Township has four full-time police officers and three part-time officers.

Brenda Neeb, secretary, said the cost for the three part-time officers is a minor impact on the police budget.

"We're looking to do things differently," said Green. "The police budget has increased in the 14 years I've been here. Police costs used to be about 20 percent a few years ago and now the costs for police have risen to more than25 percent."

"Whether it's regionalization or something else, we have to look at other alternatives."

Members of the community attending the meeting overwhelmingly support maintaining a municipal police department.

Ken Meyer, who recently moved to Franklin Township, said that he has 22 years in law enforcement.

"I moved here because you have a great fire department and municipal police department," he said. "I know that because you have a local department, you can rely on mutual aid. Without a police department, you'll have to rely on (Pennsylvania State Police).

"I know that state police recently moved their barracks and it will take longer for state police to respond," Meyer added.

"When I call 911, I want a police officer to respond," he said.

"I implore you to maintain police services. I bought my house because you have a police department. You talk about health and safety all the time, local police is how you keep a community safe."

Meyer questioned Green as to who would he want to respond in an emergency.

"Of course I want local police," Green said.

Suprevisor Rob Cressley said that he was also in favor of maintaining a local department.

Vice Chairman Paul Kocher said that he had "mixed feeling" on the issue.

Green said, "I'm not saying we're going to get rid of them."

Dennis Green, a resident of Long Run Road, said that was in favor of maintaining the local police department.

Green said that he is a school bus driver and that he is aware of how important a quick response would be in the event of an emergency involving a school bus.

"If I have a fight on the bus, do you realize how quickly it can get out of control," said Green. "I can't leave my seat."

Green also noted that if a school bus rolled over, he'd want local police on the scene in minutes versus waiting for state police to arrive.

"Every minute counts with a bus accident," Green said.

Also speaking on behalf of the maintaining a local police department was Jonathan Gula.

"I've listened to the radio today about a call in a neighboring community without police protection," said Gula. "I heard on the radio at 2:30in the afternoonthat no one from state police was available to respond to an emergency inTowamensing Trails. Think about that.It's nice to think that there is a police officer available in a nice 14 mile radius that has a gun to save you."

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