Shenango pulls out of regional police force

SHENANGO TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WYTV) – Currently, Shenango Township is patrolled by the Southwest Mercer County Regional Police Department, but that soon will change.

The Shenango Township Board of Supervisors has been weighing their options for about a year now and said it all came down to the money. They are looking to save money by reinstating the Shenango Township Police Department.

“Right now, we are paying Southwest Regional Police $512,000 and we have a draft budget of $507,000,” Shenango Township Supervisor Tom Hubert said.

That budget includes start-up costs, insurance, salary and benefits for newly hired chief Jason Newton, five full-time and another five to six part-time officers.

Hubert said the savings of $5,000 can be used for other projects.

“I don’t understand it because we’re talking about the same amount of money, a couple thousand dollars difference. And the bigger picture, they adamantly said it was not the service they received from the police department,” Southwest Mercer County Regional Police Chief Riley Smoot said. “With fewer men and they have to buy equipment, they have to start all over again. I don’t see where right now it makes sense.”

And with hundreds of thousands of dollars less in Southwest Regional’s budget, it could make them tighten their belts.

“It could possibly force us to have to lay off someone,” Smoot said.

The police department will be housed in its old location at the Shenango Township Municipal Building.

But not everybody is happy about the move. There is a petition circulating that asks officials to keep things the way they are.

The board did receive that petition last month and reviewed concerns mentioned, but they’re moving forward with the current plan.

Shenango Township’s contract with the Regional Police Department expires at the end of the year, so the new force will have to be up and running by Jan. 1.

“We’re just trying to make the best decision for the community at large,” Hubert said.

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