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Paying for State Police Coverage – Looking at the Numbers

LAFLIN — We are learning more about the governor’s proposal to charge communities that rely on state police coverage $25 a person. In our viewing ar...

LAFLIN -- We are learning more about the governor's proposal to charge communities that rely on state police coverage $25 a person.

In our viewing area, that impacts 315 municipalities, but the governor's office said, it's a "reasonable deal."

In Luzerne County, more than two dozen communities rely solely on state police for protection.

Laflin is one of them. It dropped its police force in 2014 and many people there say they cannot afford to pay for state police protection either.

Laflin borough council shut down the police department a few years ago to save money and then sold off the equipment. Now, Laflin relies on state police full time, which, currently, does not have an additional cost. But some people complain that response times can be slow.

"Some calls are a half hour before they answer, 45 minutes," said Mayor Dorothy Yazurlo.

Governor Wolf's plan would have communities that rely on state police pay $25 per person. Laflin's mayor says finding that money would be difficult.

Wolf's plan would cost Laflin just more than $37,000 a year. That's almost 10 times less than what it cost the borough to have its own police department in 2014.

Still, Laflin borough officials admit, if Governor Wolf's proposal goes into effect, they'd have to raise taxes to pay for it, and many people here are not happy about it.

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"The state police are stretched thin. They are very short on people," the mayor added.

Nearly 70 percent of communities in the state use state police for some protection. The places with full-time state police coverage that would have to pay under Wolf's plan.

In Luzerne County, the Wyoming state police barracks covers several areas full-time, like Bear Creek Township. It's the largest area in Luzerne County with a full-time state police presence, covering roughly 70 square miles. People there say they'd rather have their own police.

"If it's going to get raised, either state police or local, then we should have a local police," said township resident River Missal.

Governor Wolf says the fee would generate about $63 million a year and that would go toward cadet classes for 100 new troopers.

But it's just a proposal, and many communities in Luzerne County hope to work with local lawmakers to try to shoot it down during budget talks.