Bucks County boroughs to combine police forces

Posted: December 26, 2013

In a state that has the most police departments in the country, Pennsylvania's number will shrink by one next month when two Bucks County boroughs combine forces.

New Britain and Doylestown don't share a border, but they sit within a couple miles of each other in central Bucks County. The regionalization will save the boroughs $130,000 the first year, officials said.

"Over the years we anticipate the savings to increase to the point where it would have made no economic sense not to regionalize," said New Britain Mayor David Holewinski. "It's nothing but benefit."

Police department regionalization is gaining favor as towns face the challenge of providing adequate services while tax revenues flatline or fall, according to the state's Department of Community and Economic Development. Pennsylvania has more than 30 regional police departments that represent more than 100 municipalities.

About 83 percent of the Commonwealth's 1,100 departments have fewer than 10 officers, and many of them are too small to provide a full range of services. For example, New Britain, with its five full-time officers, lacks detectives but will get them next month when it joins forces with Doylestown, which has 15 full-timers.

The towns will save money by shaving off redundancies, needing one less police station, fewer vehicles and other equipment.

These two boroughs, which have a combined population of about 12,000 people, are relatively sleepy, with property offenses and alcohol-related crimes making up the bulk of arrests, according to state data. The one exception was the murder of a homeless man this summer in Doylestown. The alleged killer's trial is scheduled for February.

The boroughs had been in talks over the last few years to combine forces with Doylestown Township and Warwick, among other municipalities. However, the larger towns pulled out of the discussions over several concerns, one of which was skepticism that they would save money.

Det Ansinn, president of Doylestown's borough council, likened police regionalization to municipalities combining school districts, a trend that caught on in Pennsylvania during the 20th century for the same reasons: to save money and provide better services.

"I think you'll see it happen a lot more," he said.

bfinley@phillynews.com

610-313-8118

@Ben_Finley

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