Supervisors concerned about number of needless State Police calls caused by alarm systems
By Kelli Siehl, Staff Writer, UnionvilleTimes.com
POCOPSON — “Help Pocopson Reduce False Alarms” was the headline of an article in the Township’s July newsletter and during Monday night’s Board of Supervisors’ meeting, Vice-Chair Georgia Brutscher appealed to residents and business owners to assist with the reduction of false alarms in the township.
Brutscher admonished, “this is a terrible waste of State Police time to go out on these calls,” while holding a report which outlined that in the past month 7 of the 39 calls to State Police were for burglary false alarms.
She told residents that in Pocopson Township, each month nearly 20% of police calls end up being for a false alarm. The State Police are supposed to fine property owners for multiple false alarms which occur at a single location within a stated period of time, but due to privacy laws, names and locations are not released . It is also unclear just how many of the reported alarms are repeat occurrences.
When one resident questioned the significance of board members’ concerns, especially if the State Police are being compensated through fines, Supervisor Lauressa McNemar stated that township officials do not know if the fines are being imposed. She continued, “it is a big deal” because Pennsylvania is considering making municipalities financially responsible for the use of State Police services.
Supervisors’ Chair, Steve Conary explained that a bill is being considered in the State House to charge municipalities which do not have their own police department a per capita fee for State Police services. Conary said if the bill passes, the township would end up paying about $650,000 a year to receive the same level of service received today. Currently, the township, which averages one call a day, does not pay an additional fee for the State Police services.
Another resident asked if Pocopson Township has ever looked into establishing its own police department and Conary explained that the township has indeed considered forming its own department but after looking at all of the factors involved – the cost “would be roughly a million dollars.”
Conary assured the audience that if the bill passes, he believes Pocopson would join with surrounding townships to investigate if there is a “regional township police department option that would be effective, and that would make sense and give us the coverage at hopefully a lower cost.”
The Board expressed interest in inviting a member of the Pennsylvania State Police to an October Supervisors’ meeting for further discussion. Brutcher plans to attend the regional planning commission meeting next week in order to find out the statistics of false alarm activations in surrounding municipalities.
In the meantime, Pocopson Township residents are asked to take another look at page 5 of the July newsletter and if you are having any alarm system problems, contact your alarm system provider and inquire about ways to reduce false alarms.