DUPONT — Several police officers from Pittston Township and Jenkins Township attended a presentation on a study of police regionalization in five Pittston area municipalities Thursday.
And the presence of those officers was appreciated, according to Police Regionalization Study Commission Co-Chairman Bob Linskey, although he wished more officers attended, including those from the three other municipalities participating in the study — Dupont, Hughestown and potentially Yatesville, which is now covered by Jenkins Township police.
The study, conducted by retired police chiefs working with the Governor’s Center for Local Government Services, an arm of state Department of Community and Economic Development, is really “a blueprint … of what could be called the Northeast Regional Police Department,” Linskey said. “It’s not what is going to be set in stone.”
Linskey said the local study commission is comprised of two representatives from each of the participating municipalities, and they have been meeting and discussing the DCED study, the potential “structure of the department and so on, and these things are still up for discussion.”
He said Thursday’s meeting was specifically geared to provide information to the police officers currently serving the five municipalities “because we don’t want to do this on our own. We want your input all the way as we go through this together and see if this is the best thing for this area.”
Linskey said the study “intends to harm no full-time police officers. No one will have their salaries reduced, no one will have their benefits reduced.” He said the highest salaries and best benefits currently offered in each municipality would be used for a regional department.
Currently, a total of seven full-time officers and 30 part-time officers cover the five municipalities, which have a total of 15 patrol vehicles. Pittston Township’s department has one civilian clerical employee.
Proposed is a roster of 16 full-time sworn police personnel, including a chief, four corporals or sergeants, one detective, one k-9 officer and nine patrol officers, plus two administrative/clerical personnel. The staffing levels are based on the International Association of Chiefs of Police population formula.
The staffing would put the regional department at 1.3 officers for every 1,000 residents. The average ratio of police-to-population among eight regional departments in Pennsylvania is 1.2 officers per 1,000 residents. The Pennsylvania municipal average is 2.23 officers per 1,000 residents, and the Northeastern Pennsylvania average is 1.88 officers per 1,000 residents.
The study proposes 10 patrol units, which would amount to considerable savings versus the current 15, Linskey said.
Proposed starting salaries would be $53,000 for the chief, $40,000 for corporals, $37,000 for officers, $30,000 for one clerk and $25,000 for the other. Annual personnel costs including benefits would total $974,850. Non-personnel costs for things such as uniforms, vehicle maintenance and headquarters rent would be $261,600, bringing the total budget to $1,236,450.
The proposed cost distribution per municipality would be:
• Dupont — 20 percent.
• Hughestown — 12 percent.
• Yatesville — 7 percent.
• Jenkins Township — 30.6 percent.
• Pittston Township — 29.6 percent.
The annual adjusted net costs compared to 2013 budgeted costs would be $51,380 more for Dupont, $54,550 more for Yatesville, $72,328 less for Hughestown, $42,033 less for Jenkins Township and $163,695 less for Pittston Township.
Several police officers discussed some of their concerns about staffing and other issues during a question-and-answer session following Linskey’s presentation.
Check back to timesleader.com later for an updated story.