Washington Township supervisors are considering making a major shift in how they allocate the resources of their police department in an attempt to reduce the toll of the heroin epidemic on the township.
Sometime in the near future, Washington Township will assign a full-time officer to the Franklin County Drug Task Force.
The county drug task force investigates individuals and organizations involved in narcotics trafficking, seizes assets related to the drug trade and also promotes coordinated narcotics enforcement between local agencies.
According to Washington Township’s board of supervisors, the goal of the shift is to help commit additional resources to the fight against drug overdoses in Franklin County and Washington Township.
“There’s a staggering number of people having trouble with drugs. That’s why we’re making the change,” said Michael Christopher, Washington Township manager.
In order to keep the increased drug patrol presence in line with the current budget for Washington Township’s police force, the township will reduce the total number of hours that they have a township officer on patrol.
Currently, Washington Township employs 10 full-time officers and two part-time officers who serve a population of more than 14,000 people.
Those numbers won’t change after the switch, but what will change is that one of the full-time officers will become a full-time representative on the drug task force.
“People might ask, ‘why don’t you just do that here?’ The answer is we don’t have the kind of equipment that they have. It doesn’t make sense to try and duplicate the task force on an individual department basis,” said Christopher.
In order to maintain a police presence during the times where they do not have an officer on patrol, Pennsylvania State Police will assist the department. Pennsylvania State Police currently assist any municipality that asks for help without any associated charges or costs, according to Christopher.
He said times when Pennsylvania State Police are patrolling will not be available to the public and will be determined by the Washington Township police chief.
Another goal of the move is to help out some of the other emergency personnel in Washington Township who have been negatively impacted by the heroin epidemic.
“EMS has had a toll taken on them as well. It’s another rung on the ladder that we’re hoping to help with the change,” said Elaine Gladhill, Washington Township supervisor.
Washington Township will be making the changing in the near future, but have not set a specific date. The board of supervisors have stated that they do not believe police services for the residents will be adversely affected.
This program will require finalization by the board of supervisors before it’s enacted. Discussion for the agreement will be held during the April 26 workshop meeting and Christopher expects the supervisors to vote on it by the following meeting on May…