SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Governor Josh Shapiro was in Northeastern Pennsylvania Thursday talking to law enforcement, specifically about how to increase the number of officers patrolling our communities.
Police departments across the nation and the commonwealth are facing serious challenges such as filling their ranks, as well as a two-fold problem, attracting new officers and then retaining those officers.
According to Governor Josh Shapiro, he wants to face that problem head-on.
“It’s most important right now to make sure we address the shortage when it comes to law enforcement that we have safe communities,” Governor Shapiro stated.
Governor Josh Shapiro paid a visit to the Lackawanna College Police Academy in Scranton, Thursday, to pitch his plan, which he says will address police officer shortages across the Commonwealth.
“From the municipal policing standpoint, we are short about 1,200 municipal police officers, that’s simply unacceptable. We have to attract the best of the best into, what I believe, I believed for a long time this a noble profession that is serving in law enforcement,” Governor Shapiro explained.
The governor says increased funding for law enforcement is crucial. He is proposing direct relief for new officers.
“So for the first time ever, we are creating a really unique tax incentive program. What we are saying to every new recruit state trooper or municipal police officer. When you get certified here in Pennsylvania for the first time, we will put up to $2,500 back in your pocket for at least three years,” added Governor Shapiro.
Lieutenant Blaise Cholish (pictured below) is a cadet at the Lackawanna College Academy. She and her classmates like what they are hearing from the governor.
“I know a lot of people right now in our class are putting themselves through the academy. So they’re kind of, this is just another incentive to get them to pass and make sure they really need extra tax credit back,” said Lt. Cholish, Police Academy Cadet.
Sergeant Michal Bogart from the Weatherly Police Department in Carbon County also supports the governor’s proposal.
“It’s definitely a problem right now. Retention, trying to get people hired; bringing them in is a challenge. It’s a nationwide problem but actually to keep the cadets who are coming out of college. The officers who are switching departments to actually keep them is one of the problems we’re facing.” explained Sergeant Bogart.
Governor Shapiro first proposed the tax breaks for police officers during his budget address last week. However, it still has to get support from lawmakers, for the most part.
But there does seem to be bi-partisan support for his plan.