Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Rafferty wants state police barracks reopened

State Sen. John C. Rafferty Jr., R-44th, has asked Gov. Ed Rendell and the State Police to re-open the Skippack barracks in Montgomery County on a full time basis.

Rafferty thanked State Police Commissioner Frank Pawlowski for his recent comments at a public hearing in which he stated that the pilot program instituted by Gov. Rendell was not working and said he would ask the governor for an exemption to the hiring freeze to re-staff the Skippack barracks.

"I respect Col. Pawlowski for the courage of his convictions," Rafferty said in a statement.

The Skippack barracks is in Rafferty's district.

State Police began closing the Skippack Barracks for 16 hours every weekday and all weekend in December 2006 in a cost-cutting move.

Between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, a clerk is available to answer phone calls and assist visitors, according to Rafferty. However, after these hours the barracks "go dark" and all calls and visitors are directed to an automated ACC which redirects the caller or visitor to a Consolidated Dispatch Center (CDC).

In other words, it's unlikely you'd find a state trooper at the Skippack barracks if you stopped by for help.

"My concern is for the public safety," said Rafferty, chairman of the Senate Law and Justice Committee. "People expect that a state trooper or official clerk will be at barracks when they go there,"

The state Senate overwhelmingly approved Senate Bill 318 in May 2007 which would have required all State Police barracks to remain open 24 hours a day, every day, Rafferty said, but the was not considered by the Democratic-controlled state House Representatives in the last session.

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