State Police station closing Ephrata Boro officials react
State Sen. Mike Brubaker (R-36) was notified that the State Police Troop J Command Center will remain in Lancaster County, but the Ephrata station will be closed.
According to the Pennsylvania State Police, the Ephrata State Police Station will close effective August 17. After that date, all Lancaster County State Police incidents will be dispatched out of the Lancaster Headquarters Station, located at 2099 Lincoln Highway East.
Ephrata Borough Manager Bob Thompson said further information is expected to be shared within the coming weeks.
"We own the building, and we’re the landlord," said Thompson. "We have a lease with them through November of 2014. There are some termination clauses, and we need further details from the commonwealth before we can determine what that means to us."
To ensure safety is not compromised for the communities that rely on State Police coverage, troopers from the Ephrata Station will be moved to the Lancaster Station and will be positioned strategically throughout the region during their shifts.
"When they’re this close and readily available, it’s nice to have them," said Ephrata Mayor Ralph Mowen. "When they’re being dispatched out of Lancaster, they’re response time if we need them isn’t going to be nearly as good."
However, the Pennsylvania State Police has maintained that the decision to close the Ephrata Station is fiscally responsible and will not greatly impact response times or safety.
"The Lancaster delegation has been working with the Pennsylvania State Police on both issues to ensure public safety is not compromised," said Brubaker. "While we face the economic reality that the Ephrata State Police Station could not be sustained, I am happy that we were able to keep our troopers and Command Center teams and services local."
Ephrata Police Chief William Harvey said his concern lies in the relationship between Pennsylvania State Police and Ephrata Police.
"I’m extremely disappointed," said Harvey. "We have a close working relationship with our PSP colleagues. I think we’re going to be losing some of the synergy that has occurred here."
Harvey mentioned that Captain White, a new troop commander with the Pennsylvania State Police, has reassured him that "they will do everything they can to maintain the close relationships that we’ve had."
Because of the high number of state trooper vacancies, the Pennsylvania State Police considered closing the Lancaster County Command Center and moving some of the special teams and services to Command Centers in Reading and Philadelphia. Generally, Command Centers house special unit teams such as Fire Marshall, Forensics and Weight and Measurement Units.
"I guess it all comes down to dollars and man power," said Mayor Mowen. "Legislature hasn’t budgeted funds to get the man power."
He added that having Pennsylvania State Police officers stationed 12-13 miles away would be a big difference.
"You have a better relationship with your next door neighbor than you do with the people on the next block," he said.
Discussions between the Lancaster delegation and the Pennsylvania State Police have been ongoing since the beginning of the year. A joint hearing of the Senate Law and Justice Committee and the House Judiciary Committee was held May 14 in Gap to make the public aware of the potential closures and to solicit local input on the issue. More STATE POLICE, page A6