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Gov. Tom Wolf Wants Towns To Pay For State Police Protection

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HEMPFIELD TOWNSHIP (KDKA) -- Governor Tom Wolf wants more than 2,000 towns across the state, including Hempfield Township, to begin paying for protection from the state police.

Hempfield Township is the largest community in Westmoreland County. It's Pittsburgh largest suburb with a population of about 45,000. But in its more-than-200 year history, it's never had its own police department.

"Over the years, we've been a rural municipality, a lot of farm land, and over the past 15, 20 years, that farm land has transformed into housing plans, commercial development," Hempfield Township manager Jason Winters said.

Like nearly 2,500 other communities across Pennsylvania, State Police patrol Hempfield Township free of charge.

It's not exactly free, however. It costs the state $600 million each year.

"We do not have the money. We definitely do not have the money in our current budget," Winters said.

The governor wants communities to pay based on a sliding scale -- a small cost for tiny communities, but a big price tag for places like Hempfield.

South Huntingdon Township in Westmoreland County, for example, would pay just $235,000 a year.

Hempfield Township, though, would get socked with a $7 million a year bill.

East Pittsburgh in Allegheny County recently disbanded their force following the fatal shooting of Antwon Rose.

For East Pittsburgh, the governor's plan would cost them about $12,000 a year. Elsewhere in Allegheny County, Haysville Borough would pay just $560.

In Butler County, tiny Cherry Valley Borough would pay just $520 a year and Center Township would get a bill for nearly $455,000. In Beaver County, Hanover Township would cough up $91,000.

Back in Hempfield Township, the issue of public safety was already under discussion.

"We've actually started the discussion of a public safety commission to look at police, fire and the entire public safety picture," Winters said.

Many of these communities are also talking about forming a regional police force like they do in Pine Township.

Last year, Governor Wolf proposed charging for state police, but it didn't pass.

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