How much has the state told affected communities about plans to close the Philipsburg state police barracks?
The barracks does not, despite the name, sit in Philipsburg borough. It’s located in Rush Township. Its coverage area spans the western edge of Centre County and ends at the Clearfield County line, where the Woodland barracks picks up the coverage. But crimes often cross the creek and bleed from one county to the other, making cooperation between the two counties — and the different stations — common.
But no one told Clearfield County about what was happening to the station just over the border.
“We are aware of it,” said Clearfield County commissioner John Sobel. “We have not been contacted by anyone.”
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Instead, he said, the commissioners met with a representative of Gov. Tom Wolf’s office a few weeks ago.
“We got confirmation from our inquiries,” Sobel said. “But it wasn’t brought to our attention.”
Closing the barracks would mean that from the Clearfield station in Woodland to the new merged Rockview-Philipsburg location — planned for Benner Township — there would be a distance of almost 47 miles. With Philipsburg open, there is just 15 miles to Woodland and 24 miles to Rockview.
“It worries us,” Sobel said. “I have a great deal of confidence in Pennsylvania State Police if they have a proper number of police in place. We don’t know if there will be a decrease in the number of officers.”
Philipsburg borough has relied on the state police for coverage for more than a decade, since its last officer retired. Rush Township didn’t have police. The closest local departments are over the county line in Decatur Township and with the Morris-Cooper Regional Police Department in the Kylertown area.
“Obviously no one wants to see it leave the area,” said Philipsburg borough Manager Joel Watson.
However, he said he had been assured that closing the barracks didn’t mean pulling the troopers.
“My understanding is that they can do 80 to 90 percent of their work from their cars,” Watson said.
The state police used a similar figure last week and insisted that the area would still have adequate coverage.
A meeting is planned for 7 p.m. Thursday at the Philipsburg-Osceola Area Middle School for residents to raise concerns.
Sobel said he empathizes with the state’s desire to save money but would like more information about how the plan would be implemented.