ASHLEY, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Controversy is unfolding in a small Luzerne County community. Ashley Borough officials are talking about possibly disbanding the borough’s police department…and that’s raising concerns among some residents. But borough leaders tell Eyewitness News, all this is right now is talk. But the final decision may come down to dollars and cents.
“The response time…it would be a lot longer if State Police instead took over our local police department,” Ashley resident Rich Powell said.
And we heard that over and over again. Rich Powell has lived in Ashley his entire life and he thinks a local police force is better able to recognize things that may be out of the ordinary, compared to officers from out of town.
“They can see people that come in and out of the town that are not residents,” Powell explains.
Ashley Police Officer Joe Wildes says the borough has been down this road before, and it didn’t work out.
“Response time is big. I think Ashley people want an Ashley Police force,” Officer Joe Wildes of the Ashley Police Department said. “They saw in 2010 when they went with the State Police, they didn’t like that much. They like their police force and they’d like to keep it.”
Ashley currently has three full-time officers and six part-time officers. They patrol a one-square-mile area of a borough with about 3,000 residents. The police budget is just over $300,000 a year.
“We are going to have a local police force,” Atty Bill Vinsko, Ashley Borough Solicitor said.
Councilmembers referred Eyewitness News to Borough Solicitor Bill Vinsko.
“We are not going to abdicate to the State Police, but it would be prudent for Ashley Borough Council to actually look at all options for fiscal reasons to make sure they are doing the best for the residents,” Vinsko said.
Those numbers will factor into the council’s decision about the fate of the department.
“There may be an opportunity to merge with another department,” Vinsko said. “We may keep our department. But we are just in the planning stages of looking at all the options at this point.”
Police Chief David Fedorczyk says he sees no reason for any changes to be made. He insists that his department is operated well within the current budget and stands by the work of his officers.
The Borough Council is expected to discuss the matter at its next regular meeting on May 14th.
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