A Crawford County township has decided to relinquish its policing duties to a neighboring city.
Vernon Township in Crawford County made a tough decision Thursday night. After a vote from township supervisors, they’re set to abolish their own local police department in favor of contracting the City of Meadville for services.
Vernon Township supervisors described it as a sign of the times but they said the change will be better for the taxpayers in the long run.
Vernon Township residents in Crawford County are preparing to say goodbye to their local police force. But people won’t be left without coverage.
The township is entering into a 20-year contract with the City of Meadville’s police department.
“We looked at this when the chief retired, we thought this was a good opportunity to take a step back and evaluate our options as a whole,” said Robert Horvat, Vernon Township manager.
The Vernon Township Police Department currently only has two officers and hiring has been a struggle in comparison to what other departments might offer.
Now, they’ll pay the city of meadville annually for coverage and transfer over some three million dollars in pension plan funds to meadville being used as credit.
They’re also sending over all cruisers and equipment.
“A police officer is going to respond and respond quickly. I think that’s something that’s going to be and could be life saving to them,” horvat said.
Supervisors said residents need not worry about response time as a police officers will always be stationed in the township in 12 hour shifts and in case of any other larger emergency where backup is needed, officers will be dispatched to the scene from meadville.
“I’ve already been planning. I have a map in my office where I have different zones mapped out, a couple different ones. We’re going to take a hard look at call volume, times of day, days of the week, so that we can best set up our officers to provide the best, quickest response to all areas of vernon township,” said Michael Stefanucci, chief of police for the City of Meadville.
At the end of the day, supervisors said the township will save just over $5 million than if they were to operate their own force. And on top of that, they’ll be covered 24/7 rather than operating with lapses in coverage gaps as they currently are.
Meadville’s police chief said he holds a great deal of respect for everyone who has served in the vernon township police department.
“We may be filling their shoes but they’re not forgotten. They did an important job with a lot of dedication and service for a lot of years and I think that’s an important part that people need to remember and keep in their heart,” Stefanucci went on to say.
Meadville Police will begin covering Vernon Township on January, 1 but until then Pennsylvania State Police will be covering the area.