It was defeated last year, but Gov. Tom Ridge's proposal to make Pennsylvania's larger municiplaties pay a surcharge for state police coverage is back again. Even if this bill fails in the 1997, it raises an issue local governments will have to confront in the near future.
Here's the issue: Some local governments provide their own police services, while others rely on the state police for law enforcement. Shouldn't governments that rely on the state police to keep order pay some fee, since it would certainly cost them something to maintain a municipal police force?
No, say the the Pennsylvania state lawmakers who represent Franklin County. It should be a town's free choice to either have its own police force or use the state police, says state Sen. Terry Punt. Either way, Punt says there shouldn't be a charge for state police service.
Okay, but if there is no incentive to do their own policing, then why shouldn't cash-strapped towns just disband their departments and let the state do those chores? That might be an attractive option in Franklin County's Washington Township, where the police force has been a source of controversy for years, and which costs the township's taxpayers $600,000 a year.