LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — South Abington Township police have been covering two additional townships and the contracts for that coverage are coming to an end.
In a statement, South Abington Township Police Chief Paul Wolfe tells 28/22 News the South Abington Police Department has been giving police coverage for Ransom Township and Newton Township for a decade and the contract for the coverage ends at the end of 2023. According to Chief Wolfe, negotiations to renew the contract began earlier in 2023.
Ransom Township requested one full-time officer in a fully equipped police car to cover the area for 40 hours a week with benefits, while Newton Township was looking to keep coverage the same as the previous year, Chief Wolfe said.
Chief Wolfe explained that Ransom Township was informed the coverage would cost $58,000 annually for the police car and the officer’s salary. According to Chief Wolfe, Ransom Township decided to table the discussion and so far, has not continued negotiations since.
The contract for Ransom Township at this time, according to Chief Wolfe, is they would be charged $89.57 an hour per officer who responds to a call in the township.
The South Abington Township Police Department responded to about 200 calls in Ransom Township and Chief Wolfe notes that was a major increase from previous years.
The maximum amount to be billed to Ransom Township, according to Chief Wolfe, was set to $90,000. While the township has yet to reach that amount, Chief Wolf explains if they were to go past that limit, they would stop services and Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) would take over coverage of the area.
Ransom Township Supervisor Jerry Scott said “They are looking at other options for police coverage for Ransom Township residents.
While Chief Wolfe informed Newton Township of the cost, he said the township couldn’t afford the services.
In 2023, Chief Wolfe stated the South Abington Township Police Department responded to about 800 calls in Newton Township.
Currently set at $86,000 a year, Newton Township has not yet reached the maximum billing amount, according to Chief Wolfe.
Kevin Carr, a Newton Township Supervisor, said he was surprised to see the termination letter come across his desk. Carr added that it’s unfortunate and they are still looking to see how they can negotiate the terms with the South Abington Township Police Department, but are also looking to put together their own police department.
Carr wanted residents of Newton Township to know there will still be coverage in the new year from PSP as they look for alternatives and the township will never be without protection. The safety and welfare of the people is of the utmost importance, Carr said.
Chief Wolfe said South Abington police has a $1.8 to $2 million budget that lets two to three officers serve each shift. He says the coverage of Ransom and Newton townships stresses the department’s thin resources.
Residents in South Abington Township, Chief Wolfe says, are the ones paying for the police who respond to increased calls outside of the area. If South Abington Township continues to respond to calls outside of the area, Chief Wolfe feels Ransom and Newton townships should pay for that coverage.
According to Chief Wolfe, South Abington Township police responded to 4,000 calls in 2023 within South Abington Township.
Chief Wolfe said they’re open to negotiations for covering Newton and Ransom townships, but the letter of termination had to be turned in as a 30-day notice.
If coverage is ended and both townships don’t get coverage from other departments, PSP would be the only responders to the townships.