In 2016, Pennsylvania State Police provided either full- or part-time protection to 1,697 municipalities. Of those, 1,287 are covered totally by state police.
Municipalities don’t pay the cost for that coverage — it’s spread across taxpayers statewide, but that might not be the case for much longer.
Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2017-18 budget proposal includes a $25 fee per person living in a municipality without local police coverage.
28 municipalities in Centre County would be affected by Wolf’s proposed $25 per capita fee
Centre County has two state police barracks: Rockview and Philipsburg.
Rockview state police provide sole coverage to Benner, Boggs, Burnside, Curtin, Gregg, Haines, Howard, Liberty, Marion, Miles, Penn, Potter, Snow Shoe and Walker townships, as well as Centre Hall, Howard, Milesburg, Millheim and Snow Shoe boroughs, according to state police data.
Meanwhile, Philipsburg state police service Halfmoon, Huston, Rush, Taylor, Union and Worth townships and Philipsburg, Port Matilda and Unionville boroughs, according to state police. In fact, none of Philipsburg’s coverage area has local police protection.
In the county, only College, Ferguson, Harris and Patton townships and State College borough rely fully on local police departments. Bellefonte borough and Spring Township have part-time state police coverage.
30 of Centre County’s 35 municipalities rely on state police for full- or part-time coverage
But change is coming for state police in Centre County.
A letter signed by Wolf and received by state Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Rush Township, details plans to consolidate Philipsburg and Rockview barracks into a new 15,000-square-foot facility in Benner Township.
The state police is always looking for ways to use its resources more efficiently, said Ryan Tarkowski, state police communications director.
Sgt. Lucas Rankin, station commander at Rockview, said he hasn’t heard anything official from his department about the consolidation, but he’s confident there would be no change in services.
Rockview already works closely with the Philipsburg station, he said.
Troopers’ vehicles are equipped with the technology they need, so it’s like an office on wheels, Rankin said. Geographical location of a brick-and-mortar barracks isn’t as significant as it used to be.
“The majority of troopers, when on duty, are out patrolling within specified zones and are not tied to a specific barracks location. ... it would be incorrect to assume that troopers wait in the barracks until calls are received,” J.J. Abbott, Wolf’s press secretary, said in an email to the CDT.
A meeting “being held by the concerned citizens of the area” regarding the consolidation of the Rockview and Philipsburg barracks will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday at Philipsburg Middle School, located at 200 Short St., according to the Rush Township website.
By the numbers
Centre County state police protection
▪ Population covered by Rockview only: 36,200
▪ Population covered part time by Rockview: 13,660
▪ Population covered by Philipsburg only: 14,760
▪ Population covered by local police departments only: 89,370
Source: U.S. Census Bureau statistics from 2010 (note — numbers are rounded)