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Township police chief wants more officers

September 19, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - After listening to the Washington Township, Pa., police chief again say his department is increasingly busy, the township supervisors on Monday hired a 14th full-time officer to fill the department's complement.

Jason Taylor returns to the Washington Township Police Department following a stint with the Franklin County (Pa.) Drug Task Force. He fills a vacancy created by the resignation of Jason Stutenroth.

Police Chief Barry Keller asked the supervisors several weeks ago to allow him to hire a 15th full-time officer and said he will continue to push for that position.

The matter is under consideration by the supervisors.

"It (would have to) go in the budget and be approved by the supervisors this fall. ... It needs to be presented and justified," Supervisor Carroll Sturm said.

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The long-held belief that a department should have one officer for every 1,000 residents is antiquated, Keller said. It doesn't take into account the administrative tasks provided by him and the sergeant, court appearances and time spent in booking, he said.

The 2000 U.S. Census reported the population of Washington Township as 11,559.

The officers have been working at a frenzied pace as the township sees significant increases in residential and commercial development, Keller said.

The department had handled 412 part-one crimes by the end of August this year, compared to 350 at that time last year, according to Keller. Part-one crimes include assault, murder, rape, burglary, motor-vehicle thefts and arson.

Other areas of service also have been on the rise, Keller said.

"Pretty much everything is up if you look across the miscellaneous categories and time spent," he said.

Businesses opening in Rouzerville Commons and traffic on Washington Township Boulevard alone have increased demands on the department, Keller said.

"We're almost there once a day," he said.

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