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The Crime Summit was a good first step in a dialogue on how we can more effectively address crime in our community. I attended the Summit and was encouraged that so many individuals who have leadership roles in our federal, state and local communities attended and openly discussed this vexing problem.
Experts from across the state whose primary focus is to address important issues like crime prevention, the violence in our schools and juvenile justice, substance abuse, and mental health were at the meeting.
I believe that the people who make their living addressing crime and its root causes are serving us to the best of their abilities. I know many of them and admire their dedication to their work, but we must step up our efforts to make our community safer.
The participants made a firm commitment to continue efforts to work more collaboratively, and I hope that they will form new alliances and make collaborative arrangements to maximize our crime prevention and crime fighting efforts.
If we are to make the most of the resources we have, all of us, no matter where we live, must take an interest and make an effort to prevent and combat crime in our community.
One of the issues discussed at the Summit was the need for more police officers in the county and the growing trend for communities to turn to the Pennsylvania State Police for police coverage.
Most recently, a regional department in Northeastern Berks County disbanded and the communities that comprised the regional force are now served by the state police. When municipal or regional forces disband it adds to the workload for the state police. In addition, there are large townships in the commonwealth that have always relied on the state police.
However, many communities employ their own forces and pay for them through local tax efforts. Those that choose to do so pay twice- they pay for their own force and also to cover the cost of State Police coverage through state taxes and fees.
It was suggested at the Summit that state legislators consider legislation to charge municipalities who rely on state police coverage a fee, perhaps based on population, to cover the costs for that service. Thus, the costs for public safety would be more equitably distributed among Pennsylvania taxpayers and perhaps there would be more incentive for communities to work together to develop and maintain regional police forces rather than relying on state police coverage.
I have long been a proponent of regional efforts to improve or save services and cut costs. However, changing the way public safety services are paid for and delivered is a big departure from current practice. That’s why I’d like to know what you think about this concept.
Please take a few moments to send an e-mail to email@example.com with your answers to the following questions:
1. Which does your community rely upon for public safety coverage: The Pennsylvania State Police or a municipal police force?
2. Would you prefer to reside in a community with state police or municipal police coverage?
3. How important is police coverage to your quality of life?
4. Do you support legislation requiring communities who rely on state police coverage to pay a fee based upon population?
5. If your community currently relies upon state police coverage, would you be willing to pay higher taxes so your community could join a regional police force?
I will summarize the results of the poll and publish them in our next e-newsletter. Thanks!
For all the latest news and events in the 11th Senatorial District and in Harrisburg, visit my website, my Facebook page and Twitter page.
Senator Judy Schwank