Police protection is important—so important that everyone should share in the costs
By Steven Hoffman
Gov. Tom Wolf’s state budget proposal once again calls for municipalities to help pay a larger share of the costs of state police services they receive. Under the proposal, municipalities that don’t have their own police departments would be required to help pay for the police protection through a fee. This fee would be calculated by using a formula that takes into account population, income, and coverage costs.
The state budget proposal is just a starting point for negotiations, of course. The concept of requiring municipalities to pay for state police services has been proposed before and it has not gained traction. That could certainly happen again.
Police protection is important. The State Police do a good job, but they are stretched way too thin to provide adequate protection. That’s why small boroughs like Oxford and Kennett have their own, 24-hour-a-day police departments. This is a major cost to taxpaying residents of these municipalities, but in 2020 police protection can’t be considered a luxury. It is a necessity.
Right here in southern Chester County, you see a good illustration of regional policing—where municipalities come together to address their policing needs in a fair, intelligent, and efficient way. The Southern Chester County Regional Police Department has shown how regional policing can work effectively.
In southern Chester County, you also see the unfairness of the current system where some municipalities have police protection and neighboring municipalities do not. Oxford Borough residents pay the costs of operating the full-time police department, and sometimes those officers are called upon to respond to calls in East Nottingham Township or Lower Oxford Township. The best solution is for there to be another regional police department to operate in the Oxford area, where it takes the State Police longer to respond to incidents because of the distance.
Implementing fees for municipalities that don’t have their police departments would certainly encourage more of them to pursue agreements with their neighbors for regional policing, which spreads out the costs for police protection to more people.
Police services must be paid for, one way or the other. Police protection is vitally important—so important that everyone should pay their share of the costs associated with those services.