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Senator Jay Costa Drafts Legislation To Tackle Underpaid, Under-Trained Police Officers

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(KDKA) -- Police in financially-strapped towns like Rankin can barely pay their officers -- and perhaps the outcry over the recent tragedy will get them the additional training they need.

"The better the training of these the police officer are trained everywhere the better off everyone is doing to be," said Rankin Police Chief Ryan Wooten.

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And Senator Jay Costa just drafted legislation to do just that.

"We need to have more training and more standardized training where it is applicable all over the commonwealth," he said.

Part-time officers work for two or more departments for less than $12 dollar an hour and log upwards of 60 hours a week just to make ends meet. Costa's bill seeks to address that as well.

"It's not good for anyone," he said. "It's not good for the community because can create highly stressed situations when you're working that many hours. We need to find a way for our communities to provide more help along those lines."

Costa will be holding hearing with community leaders and law enforcement on ways to come up with the money and look at other solutions like regionalizing police departments.

"We have an inordinate number of police departments, and as a result you've got fragmented policing that's taken place in these communities,' Costa said. "We need to look at where it's best to consolidate and merge some of these agencies."

Chief Dale Kraeer of Turtle Creek thinks merging departments makes sense.

"I would say as for the resources and for the officers with their benefits and they pay -- absolutely."

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