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South Side, DuBoistown residents see quicker response times by cops

A shared police service agreement between the boroughs of South Williamsport and DuBoistown appears to be paying dividends.

“It has vastly improved response time and expanded our coverage in both boroughs,” said Steven W. Cappelli, South Williamsport borough manager.

The merger occurred on Jan. 1 and costs DuBoistown about $117,000 annually, he said.

Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reports indicate violent crimes were trended downward prior to the merger in 2018.

Police revamped the shift schedule in March, amid the pandemic, Cappelli said.

In doing so, the police are able to achieve a minimum of two officers on patrol around-the-clock, he said.

The “24-7” coverage provides full safety and patrol for residents in these boroughs by having one police unit assigned to the eastern neighborhoods and another to the west, Cappelli said.

Additionally, the borough has employed a reserve or part-time officer to augment the department ranks, he said.

It also assigned an officer during daylight hours to the substation that is at the DuBoistown borough office.

One supervising officer is available per shift.

As July arrived, South Williamsport Officer Norm Hager said that he believes the merger is working out and has heard mostly positive feedback from the boroughs’ residents.

“My understanding is the residents are happy,” Hager said.

Hager, formerly chief of DuBoistown police, serves as a part administrator and part police officer

The officers are on patrol working traffic detail and on a crime unit, he said.

Pennsylvania has more police departments than any other state in the country, and many are too small to provide a full range of police services. In fact, more than 80 percent of the municipal police departments have less than 10 officers, said state Department of Community and Economic Development officials.

The concept of regional policing is gaining favor among municipal leaders who are faced with stagnant or declining sources of revenue.

Currently, there are more than 35 regional police departments representing 125-plus municipalities.

Most regional police departments were created to strengthen existing police services in the areas of administration, supervision, training, investigation, patrol and specialty services.

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