Police officers in Carbondale now have more on their plate. A contract with neighboring Fell Township went into effect in the new year.
Carbondale’s mayor said it could mean the beginning of a regionalized police force in Lackawanna County’s up-valley.
Thursday afternoon two Carbondale Police cars pulled out of the department headed to a call that will take them farther up Belmont Street than they typically go. They’re headed to Fell, a township of a little more than 2,000 people but 15 square miles.
People who live there haven’t had a police department of their own in many years.
But, an agreement with Carbondale means city police will patrol Fell Township for 2014. A trial for the two communities.
Kevin Urian lives in Waymart but drives all over Fell Township with his plow and has had to call State Police for help in the past. He said they weren’t always reliable.
“If there was another priority they wouldn’t come right up to this area, if they had something else that was more pressing. Plus, I think the local Carbondale Police will be more efficient,” Urian said.
Other people who live and work in Fell Township said they will feel safer now since cops are closer. Under the contract, Carbondale officers are required to patrol Fell Township at least once per shift. Fell Township includes the communities of Simpson, Richmondale, and part of the Crystal Lake area.
“A lot of accidents, this is a racetrack out here in front of the Beer Express, they fly down through here and State Police, they couldn’t patrol it that much,” said Fell Township resident Richard Hayes.
The coverage comes at a cost. Fell Township taxpayers will pay $75,000 for the one year contract. But, for the cash-strapped city of Carbondale, the mayor said that money is key.
“We’ve unfortunately cut our department over the last few years especially recently and we need to expand our tax base to maintain the level of service that we have,” Carbondale Mayor Justin Taylor said.
Taylor said he proposed the police plan to Fell Township supervisors every year for the last decade. He said if it goes well it could lead to a regional police force in the future.
“Being the city in the north of the county, being the lead, if we could encompass some other municipalities, we would be happy to do that,” Mayor Taylor added.