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Oklahoma ends police pact with Vandergrift

posted Jul 15, 2010, 12:28 AM by Vandergrift Police

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Starting in January, borough residents and property will be protected by routine patrols by the state police, not by Vandergrift police.

The change is based on money and not a bad experience, a borough official said last week.

"This is a financial decision," Oklahoma Council President Ron Norton said one day after the council voted to "sever" the nine-year relationship.

He said council voted, 4-0 with one abstention, to cancel its contract with Vandergrift police for routine patrols because of the $30,000 price tag.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the 5.2-square-mile borough has about 900 residents while Vandergrift, which covers 1.4-square-miles, has about 5,440 residents.

Vandergrift Secretary Steve DelleDonne said he hasn't been officially notified by Oklahoma.

"I've heard, but we officially don't know what's going on," DelleDonne said.

It's unclear what impact not getting the $30,000 will have on Vandergrift or its police department, which has eight full-time and five part-time officers. In Vandergrift, 1 mill of property tax brings in about $22,000.

Norton said he talked with state police and is satisfied with the planned level of patrol.

He has hand-carried a letter to the Kiski Valley state police station officially asking for primary police coverage.

"We were told the borough is two miles from that state police station and that, in addition to troopers on patrol, a trooper at the station also can respond to calls," he said.

Norton said a state police sergeant will meet with council in January.

Vandergrift police Chief Joe Caporali said his department started routine patrols in Oklahoma Borough in November 2000.

Vandergrift police, which also patrol East Vandergrift, had 4,649 calls in 2008 including 284 in Oklahoma.

So far this year, Vandergrift officers have responded to 4,501 calls including 290 in Oklahoma, Caporali said.

Since October 2008, state police has assumed coverage for 18 areas that previously had local police coverage. Included are Bell and Hyde Park, said state police Lt. Myra A. Taylor.

There are 951 boroughs in the state including about 400 with fewer than 1,000 residents, according to the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs.

"The only difference is that state police enforce crimes listed in the crime and motor vehicle codes and not other local ordinances such as barking dogs," association researcher Shelley Houck said.

Sunday, December 20, 2009