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Valley News Dispatch

Police merger floated for Cheswick and Springdale Township

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The state Department of Community and Economic Development has recommended a merger of the Cheswick and Springdale Township police departments in a move the agency said could save the municipalities about $200,000 a year.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for the communities to save money,” said Springdale Township police Chief Mike Naviglia.

He said a merger would improve coverage in the area and allow for better training of part-time officers.

“I think there’s also a great opportunity for the younger guys to have more on-the-job-type training with seasoned police officers,” Naviglia added.

The state’s recommendation comes after a months-long study of the two municipalities’ police departments that was requested by local officials earlier this year.

The study was done at no cost to the borough or township through the Governor’s Center for Local Government Services program.

The recommendation includes:

• The creation of a 24-hour police agency consisting of three full-time officers and four part-time officers;

• The creation of a three-member board or commission to govern the department composed of one elected official from each municipality and one additional member who would be either rotated on an agreed-upon basis or appointed at-large;

• The department would be housed at the Springdale Township station until other facilities can be agreed upon;

• One municipality should be designed as the administrative municipality and perform the duties of maintaining police payroll and personnel records, titles to equipment, insurance policies and financial records;

• The estimated cost is just under $500,000 a year, which would be split between Cheswick and Springdale Township.

According to the study, Cheswick and Springdale Township spend just under $700,000 combined for their police services. The municipalities could see a savings of about $200,000 that would be split between them if they merge.

Both municipalities have previously cited cost savings as an incentive for merging.

Some residents have voiced concerns about not having adequate police coverage with a merger, but Naviglia said that wouldn’t be the case.

“There’s absolutely no lack in police coverage,” he said. “It’s still going to be the same police coverage they have right now.”

Cheswick Councilman Michael Girardi said council voted this month to move forward with exploring the merger and create a committee to review the study’s findings and evaluate the borough’s needs.

“We’re not rushing into it. We’re evaluating it,” he said. “There will certainly be several opportunities where the public’s going to have a chance to review what we’re proposing.”

Springdale Township Commissioner Shirley Redman, who is the police commissioner, said she hadn’t had a chance to review the study and didn’t want to comment yet.

The concept of splitting the cost of services among municipalities is gaining popularity in Pennsylvania, and there are now 36 regional police departments across the state, according to the Department of Community and Economic Development.

A message left for Cheswick police Chief Bob Scott wasn’t returned Wednesday.

Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Emily at 724-226-4680, [email protected] or via Twitter @emilybalser.

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