Published Date Written by Dan Miller
A study on whether to combine some or all of the 17 municipal police departments in Dauphin County should be completed by spring, county officials said.
The Dauphin County Commissioners on Wednesday, Sept. 10, selected the firm of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) from Washington, D.C. to complete the study for the county.
The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development is providing most of the $95,000 cost for PERF to do the study, the county said. The commissioners authorized $12,000 from the county toward the study, and another $10,000 is coming from the Dauphin County District Attorney’s office.
PERF will work with the 18-member Dauphin County Police Regionalization Committee, a committee that is studying the regionalization of local police departments.
The committee is led by District Attorney Ed Marsico and Commissioner Mike Pries. Lower Swatara Twp. Commissioner Nick DiFrancesco and Hummelstown Police Chief Charles Dowell are also members.
The committee includes representatives from local law enforcement, elected officials, and unions. Middletown has no direct representation on the committee, according to the listing of members on the county Web site.
A public meeting will be held before the end of 2014 to share preliminary findings of the police regionalization study, the county said.
In May, the Dauphin County Chiefs of Police Association voted unanimously in support of studying the feasibility of police regionalization.
The county quoted Marsico and Pries in a press release as saying that the study is only the first step in the process. Any consolidation would happen only with the support of the municipalities involved.
The county said that PERF has almost 40 years of experience in working with law enforcement.
The first step in the study will be to gather information about the police departments in the county before making recommendations about how joint departments may be formed, Dr. Craig Fraser, the PERF project manager who will oversee the study, said in the county’s press release.
“We’ll look at what is in place now and we’ll be asking people what they would like to see regarding policing in Dauphin County,” Fraser said. “We want to gauge whether a single regional police department or some combination of agencies might work to promote effectiveness and efficiency.”