State Rep. Scott Conklin hosted a public meeting in Philipsburg for community members to voice their public safety concerns and discuss possible solutions.
"Public safety and adequate police protection go hand in hand," Conklin said. "Any time you have tight state budgets, a governor supporting state police cuts and a cut in rural barracks, there is definite cause for concern."
Conklin said as a result of state budget cuts a Lancaster County state police barracks in Ephrata recently closed.
"At the end of the day we need fight to keep at-risk barracks open and address the number of state troopers, or lack thereof," said Conklin. "The state is expected to be hundreds of troopers short by the end of the year and that doesn’t account for retirements.
"People who depend on state police coverage have every reason to fear longer response times and be concerned about diminishing public safety. A lower trooper complement also endangers the officers who are in the field responding to calls. They simply would not be as safe."
Conklin said enacting a fair and reasonable severance tax on Marcellus Shale drilling companies could be one way to raise a funding stream dedicated to sustaining and increasing the state police complement in Pennsylvania.
"We have a so-called impact fee on drillers right now. That doesn't get the job done," Conklin said. "Public safety should never be comprised and especially not at the expense of those on the other end of the call.
"Our families deserve piece of mind and our officers deserve to be able to do their job without putting themselves at further risk. The state needs to have their backs."
Conklin noted constituents who were unable to attend the meeting can email comments and concerns by going to his website at www.pahouse.com/Conklin and clicking on the Contact Me link.