Pennsylvania bill dies; would have added 10,000 police officers

| 11/6/2006

An effort in the Pennsylvania General Assembly to stem violent crime by adding 10,000 police officers across the state has died. The price tag for adding law enforcement officers would have been $450 million.

Sponsored by House Speaker John Perzel, R-Philadelphia, the bill remained in a Senate committee awaiting consideration when the session ended. House lawmakers sent it back to the chamber for final approval before heading to the governor.

The bill - SB812 - required counties to pay 30 percent - $135 million - of the cost for the new officers and municipalities would pay 20 percent - $90 million. The state would pick up the tab for the remaining 50 percent - $225 million.

Opponents said the bill could cause a problem for financially strapped communities. Commissioners in Westmoreland County, PA, said a local tax increase likely would be required to offset the cost, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.

Supporters deny it presented a hardship for county governments.

Al Bowman, a spokesman for Perzel, said counties could have chosen not to participate.

The bill called for officers to be added during the next four years using a distribution formula that takes into account the existing number of officers, crime rate and population. That would amount to about 2,600 hires annually throughout the state.

The effort can be reintroduced during the regular session that begins Jan. 2.