The Sun-Gazette this past week broke down the numbers involved in police protection in Lycoming County.
What those numbers show is police protection in the county's municipalities is largely a function of budget.
The municipalities don't have what they can't afford when it comes to police protection.
That means small police forces in many of the county's municipalities or no local police protection at all.
In Loyalsock, where more than 11,000 residents live, police protection, such as it is, is entirely left up to the state police operating out of the barracks in Montoursville. Those Troop F policemen cover hundreds of square miles beyond Loyalsock.
Residents and officials of the township have shown no inclination in recent years toward reconsidering local police protection.
That's fine, just so no one confuses what the residents have now as real police protection.
The state police have accidents to which to scramble, speed limits to enforce and a host of other incidents to handle.
They are in no position to patrol any individual municipality.
Other smaller municipalities in the county maintain police forces ranging from two to 10 officers, but it's an open question how long they can afford that.
And how long can the City of Williamsport sustain a $6.9 million budget for its police force, a budget that will inevitably grow amid a stagnant tax base?
It won't be next year and probably won't be for a few years, but future local police protection for all municipalities in the county may depend on their willingness to transition into regional police forces.
The Tiadaghton Valley Regional Police Force that covers Jersey Shore and Porter Township is the best working example of what is needed in th future.
It's the practical solution that tax-paying residents of these municipalities deserve in the name of police protection.
When many local leaders will be willing to drop their parochial interests and pursue the organization of regionalized police forces is a far different matter.