Tyrone squabble must end

Tyrone Borough and Snyder Township officials continue their disagreement over police coverage.

The issue is almost as complicated as the lines that separate the jurisdictions – lines that sometimes mean homes on opposite sides of a street in the same town are in different jurisdictions.

If there’s trouble on one side of the street, Tyrone Borough police are dispatched. If the 911 call comes from the other side of the street, state police are sent because Snyder Township doesn’t have a police force.

The borough and township are at odds over whether Tyrone police will continue to field calls in Snyder Township at the request of state police. Because Tyrone police may be closer to the scene than on-duty troopers who are charged with covering a wide area, Tyrone police are sometimes requested by the township until state police arrive.

Borough officials have said recently officers will no longer respond, unless it’s a matter of life and death.

In 2006, Snyder Township, the Tyrone Hospital and Tyrone Area school district sought police help around the hospital and school and turned to Tyrone Borough, even offering money. Borough Council flatly denied the request.

Now the borough, under a new council, wants to sit down with the township, and once again the hospital and school district are on board with an agreement that would allow Tyrone police to respond to their campuses.

At the heart of the matter is money.

The borough says the cost of its police force is one-third of its budget, and the township has made it clear it won’t pay for police protection beyond the state police. Tyrone Hospital CEO Stephen Gildea even offered the borough compensation, an offer that council members said they appreciated but would refuse.

It begs the question: Why is having an agreement in place between the two municipalities so important now if Tyrone police previously responded to Snyder Township at the request of state police?

While Tyrone’s initial contact with the township suggested the borough was looking for money, Mayor Bill Fink now says it’s a matter of getting permission to work in the township’s jurisdiction. Previously, the borough claimed if an officer got hurt outside the borough, the borough would be on the hook for the costs, but Tyrone’s Solicitor Larry Clapper recently said Tyrone officers are covered by state liability insurance when responding to state police requests.

According to the borough’s police chief, Tyrone officers respond to between 60 and 70 calls per year (or about six calls each month).

Snyder Township officials have said they’re happy with state police coverage and have told Tyrone Borough to keep its officers out. Meanwhile, state police continue to back up Tyrone police when requested and respond into Snyder Township as usual.

Raising the stakes is the fact the town’s hospital and schools sit adjacent to one another just over the borough line in Snyder Township. What does this impasse mean should some horrific crime play out at the school or the hospital? Are Tyrone police expected to stay out and not respond or worse, waste precious time waiting on some bureaucratic decision?

The bottom line is Tyrone Borough children attend the schools, the residents use the hospital, and there may be a time when their police are needed in those areas.

It’s a shame these two neighboring communities can’t find some common ground and do what just makes sense for the good of everyone in the community of Tyrone – no matter what side of the line they live.