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State Police Shortage

Police shortages are affecting communities across Pennsylvania

With departments in our area struggling to recruit and retain officers.

Victoria Langowska continues our coverage on the issue.

Legislators in Harrisburg are working on several bills to address the police shortage in our commonwealth. Just last year there were over a thousand vacant police positions across the state according to the governor’s office.

“What Johnstown is experiencing is statewide and nationwide. there is a dramatic shortage of police officers throughout the state and the nation. all police departments are recruiting.”

Along with recruitment issues, officials highlight the danger the job presents. So far, in 2023 there have been 4 line of duty deaths.

One of them was Temple University Officer Christopher Fitzgerald whose death prompted a series of bills aimed at better protecting police officers in the state from violence.

Those bills were proposed by State Rep. Amen Brown and would ensure that officers always have a partner in critical crime scene areas as well as proper equipment.

There are however worries that funding and a lack of staffing would render these bills impossible.

“The problem is it’s hard to make that happen when you don’t have the manpower to do that. we can set up all kinds of legislations that says there has to be two men in a car to answer a call to do that.”

“In theory it sounds great, and we can legislate it but how do you mandate it?

State Rep. Brian Munroe also recently introduced a bill that would incentivize police hires by creating a 2,300$ tax credit for newly certified officers.

We spoke with Cambria County District Attorney Greg Neugebauer about these new bills.

“Certainly anything legislation wise to incentivize that, either taxes, safety measures, equipment measures, grant money to ensure the new officers have the equipment that they need. it’s expensive to run a police force as it should be. people need to be paid well. the equipment isn’t cheap and a lot of municipalities struggle with the budgetary aspects of that.”

Ultimately, many officials point to pay as an incentive.

“As a public servant, particularly someone that wears a bulletproof vest for a living, obviously to put yourself at risk and to be the one to run to danger, they obviously could be paid more. that would certainly attract more applicants.”


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