BUCKS COUNTY In a state that has the most police stations in the country, Pennsylvania's number of departments will shrink by one next month when two Bucks County boroughs combine their forces.
New Britain and Doylestown do not share a border, but are within several miles of each other in central Bucks County. The regionalization will save the boroughs $130,000 the first year, officials said.
"Over the years, we anticipate the savings to increase to the point where it would have made no economic sense not to regionalize," New Britain Mayor David Holewinski said. "It's nothing but benefit."
Police regionalization is gaining favor as towns face the challenge of providing adequate services while tax revenue flatlines or falls, according to the state's Department of Community and Economic Development. Pennsylvania has more than 30 regional police departments that represent more than 100 municipalities.
About 83 percent of the commonwealth's 1,100 departments have fewer than 10 officers, and many of the departments are too small to provide a full range of services. New Britain, for example, with its five full-time officers, lacks detectives but will get them next month when it joins forces with Doylestown, which has 15 full-timers.
The towns will save money by shaving off redundancies, needing one less police station and fewer vehicles and other equipment.
These two boroughs, which have a combined population of about 12,000, are relatively sleepy, with property offenses and alcohol-related crimes accounting for the bulk of arrests, according to state data. The one exception was the killing of a homeless man this summer in Doylestown. The alleged killer's trial is scheduled for February.
The boroughs had been in talks over the last few years to combine forces with Doylestown Township and Warwick, among other municipalities. But the larger towns pulled out of the discussions over several concerns, one of which was skepticism that they would save money.
Det Ansinn, president of Doylestown's borough council, likened police regionalization to municipalities combining school districts, a trend that caught on in Pennsylvania in the 20th century for the same reasons: to save money and provide better services.
"I think you'll see it happen a lot more," he said.