In Pennsylvania merging of municipal law enforcement agencies is inevitable

Nowadays, Pennsylvania has more than 1,000 municipal law enforcement agencies all over the state. Since many municipalities deal with the fiscal troubles, there have been talks that local law enforcement agencies may have budget cuts. Thus, the Local Government Committee in the House of Representatives has agreed on House Resolution 168, which addresses the topic of uniting of Pennsylvania police departments.

The resolution study contains proposals to better the funding manner, which police offices are the best for merging and a detailed examination of the present funding system of municipal law enforcement agencies. According to Pennsylvania law, if a municipality does not wish to have very own police stations, it might ask for the police protection from any regional law enforcement, municipal agency or any other state entity. Police protection may also be received from the state law enforcement agencies.

Furthermore, if municipalities desire to have its own regional police departments, they need to perform a practicability study, have public hearings and tour a few already established regional departments. Once the study has been completed and municipalities have decided to establish a regional department, the next step is to prepare a plan, which has to be accepted by every decision-making body of all participating municipalities.

After a regional police department has been established it is the responsibility of a chief of police to oversee the department’s activities and make related decisions. The chief reports to a commission that oversees the work of a regional law enforcement agency. This commission, which consists of the representatives from all involved municipalities, makes decisions on hiring, budget amount, and firing.

Any police department in Pennsylvania is funded from the general budget since Pennsylvania does not have a tax levy for financing law enforcement services. However, any regional police office and/or municipalities may try to receive grant funds through Municipal Assistance Program (MAP), Delinquency’s Regional Police Assistance Financing Program and the funding through the Commission on Crime of Pennsylvania. However, MAP cannot be used for funding traditional law enforcement. These grants are a one-time cash funding.