Chief: Tyrone police need assistance

Romeo asks borough for funding to ensure at least two officers can respond to a call

TYRONE — Police manpower was a concern brought up before Tyrone Borough Council members Monday, when Police Chief John Romeo discussed recent violence against officers.

“We still have a lot of our calls when we have only one person working,” he said.

Those situations, Romeo said, should be avoided, as they may lead to a higher probability of violence against police officers.

As an example, he pointed to the recent death of a state police officer who was killed in late December while responding to a call in Huntingdon County. Romeo said the number of people with “mental issues” and “anti-police” beliefs has risen in recent years.

“It’s tough,” he said. “People are a lot different.”

Driving his point, Romeo described a call from earlier this month, when a large man became aggressive during an arrest.

Romeo said the man was wearing bulky clothing, so a stun gun proved ineffective. As a result, the man had to be wrestled to the ground before he was arrested, Romeo said, noting many officers responded to that call.

“If one officer would have been there, the situation could have been a lot different,” he said.

That is especially true for the department’s officers, who are physically smaller, he said.

“They probably would have had to shoot him, or they would have gotten hurt,” Romeo said.

Romeo asked council members to find room in their budget to ensure at least two officers are able to respond to each call.

The request was not discussed much during the meeting, but afterward, Mayor Bill Fink commented on it.

“That’s always a concern of mine,” Fink said, referring to the chief’s comments. “We’ve got some issues with the police officers in Tyrone.”

Fink said the borough has five full-time officers, as well as about 11 part-timers.

He said larger municipalities may be better equipped to maintain larger police forces.

“They are not afraid to raise taxes to cover expenses,” Fink said, explaining he is not in favor of tax hikes in Tyrone. “You can’t go out and pull money out of people’s pockets. You just can’t do it.”

Lastly, Fink seemed to put some of the responsibility on the officers.

“If you’re a dedicated person, no matter what job you’re in, you’re going to make sure your people are covered,” he said, adding that may sometimes mean missing or delaying workday breaks or other activities.

Mirror Staff Writer Sean Sauro is at 946-7535.