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Why a rural PA township disbanded its police force

Plus: Shapiro pitches legal cannabis, regulated skill games in budget that bumps education spending by $2.2B

This is Talk of the Town, a free weekly newsletter delivering top news from State College and the surrounding region.

February 8, 2024
Inside this edition: Rural Pa. township joins growing list of municipalities relying on State Police for law enforcement, Gov. Josh Shapiro makes his budget pitch, and pervasive racism and harassment plague state-owned universities.
Real quick: Sweden Township in Potter County joins a growing list of Pennsylvania municipalities that rely on State Police for full-time law enforcement coverage, Spotlight PA’s Marley Parish reports.

A little more: When their longtime police chief stepped down, Sweden Township supervisors disbanded the municipal department.

In a 2-1 vote late last year, the supervisors voted to dissolve the local police force to free up tens of thousands of dollars to replace aging equipment and fund local road maintenance.

With a State Police barracks based in the township and troopers already patrolling part-time due to the township department’s limited staff, the decision to disband — though still tough to make — made sense financially, Jonathan Blass, who chairs the board of supervisors, told Spotlight PA.

Bryan Phelps, who served as police chief for more than 20 years, was set to be sworn in as a district judge in Potter County, and the department’s three part-time officers had also found other full-time work.

The supervisors didn’t relish the idea of starting from scratch. Plus, state law does not require municipalities to maintain a local police force.

Sweden Township operates with a budget of roughly $280,000. Shuttering the police department will allow the township to replace an almost 40-year-old road grader and fund other construction projects, Blass said.

The full story: Read more here.
» Shapiro pitches legal cannabis, regulated skill games in budget that bumps education spending by $2.2B

» Opioid settlement money is supposed to expand syringe services. A Pa. nonprofit just lost $150K because of them.

» Pervasive racism, harassment plagues state-owned universities despite changes
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» CDT: How will vacant Penns Valley school board seat be filled?
» WPSU: Game Commission tables plan to reintroduce American marten
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» Feb. 8: Participate in a free community art event at 3 Dots Downtown in State College, Centre County, as part of Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action.

» Feb. 8-10: Sock & Buskin Theatre Company presents The Final Rose, an interactive murder mystery, at The Shop in Zion, Centre County.

» Feb. 10: The Dead Canary Brewing Company in Philipsburg, Centre County, hosts a Valentine’s fundraiser for the ARTery.

» Feb. 10: Bucknell University’s physics and astronomy department hosts Family Night at the Observatory in Union County.

» Feb. 11: The 14th annual TEDxPSU Conference takes place at Schwab Auditorium on Penn State’s campus in Centre County.
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