Penn Township in Perry County suspends police force

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PENN TWP., Pa. - Supervisors in this Perry County township voted Wednesday evening to suspend its police department over budgetary concerns.

The board voted 3-0 to suspend the department with the hopes of bringing back the department in the near-future, but there are no current plans on how to reinstate the department and its nine part-time police officers.

"There was plenty of sleepless nights trying to make this decision," township Supervisor Brian Peters said. "It was hard because our protection of our community is most important, but unfortunately because of budget restraints, we're not able to retain our police department."

The push to suspend the force gained traction when Duncannon borough voted to end its contract with Penn Township for police services, which provided the township with around $169,000 in annual revenue. Earlier this year, the borough had parted ways with its police chief and had township Supervisor Joe Landis, a former police officer, leading the township's police operations on an interim basis.

The suspension was not enough to prevent the township's first property tax increase in 13 years, which included a new property tax earmarked exclusively for the township's fire services. Supervisors said in hindsight, incremental tax increases over the years could have helped the township's bottom line.

"To make such a big burden on our citizens and our property owners, it wouldn't be fair to them to increase a larger amount at one time," Peters said.

The department will cease operations at 11:59 p.m. Saturday night, which is when Pennsylvania State Police officers stationed at the department's Newport barracks will assume police coverage.

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