The price of police protection could be costly for some municipalities

PILLOW, DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. -- Some small towns and boroughs in central Pennsylvania don't have their own police departments.

Governor Tom Wolf believes municipalities that rely on State Police for protection should pay their share to those law enforcement officials.

Officials in one borough have to say about the proposal.

Tucked away in a corner of northern Dauphin County is Pillow, Pennsylvania. It has a population of 305 people. The borough has a church, a bank, and a post office, but one thing it doesn't have is a police station.

Pillow Historical Society president Sandra Lamenza said "I grew up here, and we always had a so-called sheriff, or chief of police in town who was also the mayor."

Pillow mayor Todd Laudenslager said "as mayor, I guess technically you're supposed to be chief of police, so to speak, but definitely we've never had a police department before."

Pillow is a relatively safe community, as not much crime seems to happen there.

"The worst that ever happened was, the boy's got a little naughty on mischief night on Halloween, and the sheriff took care of that," Lamenza said.

There also is an occasional bank robbery, the most recent one in January.

Pillow council president Dennis Smeltz said "the pillow bank was here since 1968, and that was the sixth time it was robbed. They caught a couple of them, some they didn't catch."

Now, there's a budget proposals to make boroughs like Pillow pay $25 per person for the State Police services it receives.

"I think the main thing we rely on them for right now is making sure that the trucks maintain the speed through town," Lamenza said.

"We'd have to put some kind of a tax on for anything for police protection or fire protection, we'll just have to take that out, it just isn't there," Smeltz said.

After all, Pillow's annual budget is about $40,000. At a cost of $25 per person, the borough's tab would come to $7,600, nearly 20 percent of the budget. The only way to get more money besides cutting services, would be raise taxes.

"I know there's a certain percentage that you're legally only allowed to raise that, so even if you double it, you still wouldn't be able to come up with that potentially $7,600 figure," Laudenslager said.

Some may argue boroughs and towns should pay for what they receive.

"The general taxes that we pay, we all have a certain right to police protection, but it's definitely not always fair. I mean, I agree with that, and it's definitely a big issue. We all have to somehow come to a better conclusion," Laudenslager said.

"They tried it before, it didn't go through. The talks up for Pillow, where are we going to get the money," Smeltz said.

It's a message the people of Pillow want to send to Harrisburg.  In the meantime, they're reaching out to state legislators, and asking them to listen.