Bigler Township in Clearfield County is moving forward with plans to form a police department that will serve the township and surrounding communities.
“It’s not an easy task to form a police department,” Bigler Township Supervisor Philbert Myers said. “There’s a lot of time after work, during work that has to be extended into this.”
Myers said the primary reason for forming a regional police force is to put a stop to the growing drug problem in the community.
After months of work, the township purchased a police cruiser and hired Timothy O’Leary as chief.
O’Leary will leave his job as police chief in Decatur Township, Clearfield County to join the new department.
“He is very-well rounded, very up-to-date on drug epidemics, even in this area,” Myers said. “We all believe that he will be a great asset to this police department.”
Working alongside the chief will be a part-time officer and a police advisory committee.
The committee will be made up of ordinary citizens who oversee the department, it’s budget and the community.
The members include George Richards as chairman, Tim Elder, Tom Lombardi, Barry Reams and Julie Droll.
“A lot of us have pushed to see it go the other way, but this is a little bit bigger than just a handful of folks can do, so we’re trying to help the township establish a police department,” committee member Barry Reams said.
Ramey Borough council voted to join the regional force at their meeting on December 4.
The township invited Houtzdale to join Monday. Houtzdale’s council will take the issue up in a public hearing.
If Houtzdale agrees to join, an invitation will be extended to Brisbin.
The police would also serve the Moshannon Valley School District.
Money for the department will come from all joining municipalities’ budgets and a law enforcement tax.
This tax will be 25 dollars a year per adult in the area the police serve, which is about 50 cents a week.
“By doing that, that put enough money on the table to help offset the expense of this venture, and the more that municipalities are involved, the more cost-effective it gets,” Myers said.
Myers said people from all over have offered to help to keep costs low.
Including students from Clearfield County Career and Technical Center, who will build the department office right inside the township building.
“Everybody on every level, pretty much, has been supportive,” Myers said. “Everybody’s ready for a change.”
The tentative date for the department to be operational is February 1.