By Bill O Boyle
Leader of the times
SCRANTON, Pa. – Gov. Josh Shapiro said Thursday that keeping Pennsylvanians safe is a top priority for his administration.
“And making our communities safer starts with making sure police departments are well-staffed, well-funded, well-trained and well-equipped,” Shapiro said.
Shapiro met with cadets at the Lackawanna College Police Academy in Scranton, where he heard from them about the challenges they face and discussed his common-sense budget proposal, which invests in public safety and takes steps to recruit more police officers, teachers and nurses to to fill these out. critical jobs.
“When we don’t have enough local law enforcement to cover our communities, it puts an even greater burden on the men and women on the ground keeping us safe,” Shapiro said. “Policing is a noble profession and good people want to do it, so my budget is going to make it a little easier to become a police officer and address critical gaps.”
The US Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Moosic, said he was pleased to welcome Gov. Shapiro to Scranton.
“We are very pleased to have Governor Shapiro here to see Lackawanna College’s police cadet training program and to talk about the incredible work police officers do in our region and state,” Cartwright said. “Governor Shapiro’s commitment to our area is very strong and he is already showing up for us in many different ways.”
Scranton Police Chief Thomas Carroll said he is very passionate about public service, and more importantly, about public safety.
“The difficulty of maintaining public safety increases when there is a shortage of personnel,” Carroll said. “Our dedicated officers will always face the challenges and cover these shortfalls, but this is not sustainable.”
Carrol said he, like all public safety colleagues, is concerned about the impact of the shortage on operations over time.
“For the first time in our history, we have developed a comprehensive recruitment initiative to motivate good people to accept the challenges of policing and join our force,” Carroll said. “Governor, we appreciate you understanding the seriousness of our staffing needs, promoting the legitimacy of law enforcement, and proposing recruitment incentives for public safety positions.”
Late. Marty Flynn, D-Scranton, said, “It was great to stand with the governor and the local law enforcement community to highlight the importance of passing a budget that prioritizes making Pennsylvania a safer place.”
Pennsylvania is home to nearly 1,000 state and local law enforcement agencies—the second most of any state in the nation. Unfortunately, the Commonwealth is currently facing a shortage of more than 1,200 municipal police officers. About 1-in-5 911 dispatch positions are also vacant — and in northeastern Pennsylvania, that rises to more than 1-in-4.
According to information from the governor’s office:
— To address labor shortages, Shapiro’s budget invests $24.7 million in job retention and recruitment efforts to specifically attract more nurses, police officers and teachers, and proposes a refundable tax credit for new workers in those fields and puts back up to $2,500 in pocket every time. year for up to three years.
— In addition, the budget proposes $16.4 million for four new Pennsylvania state trooper cadet classes in 2023-24, which will hire and train 384 new troopers, help fill staffing gaps and provide more coverage throughout the Commonwealth.
— The Governor’s budget will also sustainably fund the Pennsylvania State Police by creating a Public Safety and Protection Fund, reducing the PSP’s reliance on the Motor License Fund.
— Doing so will make an estimated $1.5 billion available for road and bridge projects while ensuring law enforcement has the resources they need to keep our communities safe.
— Finally, the budget creates stable funding for 911 dispatch services, supports firefighters and EMS providers, and invests in violence prevention.
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