The recent police contract Shade Township signed with neighboring Conemaugh Township will give Shade residents two new services: A school drug program and a police dog.

“These are the services we can now provide,” Conemaugh police Chief Howard Jackson said.

Police in Conemaugh Township will begin patrolling Shade this month after both sides agreed to a $190,000, one-year contract.

And the Conemaugh force may take on even more responsibility.

Next up are talks with Ursina Borough and other municipalities in southern Somerset County, including Confluence and Addison.

“We have talked to (Conemaugh police), but nothing is set in stone,” Ursina Borough Council President Jason Bowers said in an earlier interview.

“I’d like to get other municipalities involved.”

If those jurisdictions opt out of the regional coverage, the state police will be available.

“We’re not going anywhere,” said state police spokeswoman Trooper Linette Quinn in Harrisburg. “If down the road they’re not happy and they want to change back, we’ll be here.”

The plan with Shade merges Shade’s police force of one full-time and three part-time officers with Conemaugh Township’s force. As Conemaugh expands its reach through Somerset County, police said, the growing department will draw more state funding.

State police say the long-term impact could mean fewer troopers working in Somerset County.

“The long-term effect could be manpower could change if incidents go down,” said Sgt. Roger Pivirotto of the Somerset barracks.

State police stations across the state are staffed based on the number of incidents they respond to, Quinn said.

“That fluctuates all the time,” she said.

Conemaugh police said residents will see little change in response time even as the department expands.

The police department at the Shade Township municipal building will become a satellite office manned around the clock four days a week, and 16 hours a day for the rest of the week, Jackson said.

Conemaugh police have part-time patrols in Stoystown Borough for $520 per month, Quemahoning Township for $1,000 and Benson Borough for $576.

Officer Angelique Hutchison, an instructor for Drug Abuse Resistance Education, a 24-year-old program aimed at warning youths about the dangers of drugs, will instruct students from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Shade Supervisor Chairman John Topka said it was becoming too costly for the township to fund its own police, and Conemaugh offered more services – including DARE.

As Conemaugh’s coverage area grows, Jackson said he is planning to reach across demographic lines with a bike-safety program for children and a crime-prevention program for senior citizens.

Both should be operating by summer, he said.

The force also is looking to buy a drug-sniffing dog. The canine will cost $5,000 to $7,500, which will be split among the municipalities, Jackson said.

Neighbors in Central City Borough are keeping tabs on the progress of Conemaugh’s expanding reach.

Located less than a mile from the Shade Township municipal building, Central City could be the next locality to sign a service contract. The borough now is patrolled by Paint Township police.

Central City officials have said previously that they would think seriously about a change if Shade were to sign an agreement with Conemaugh.

“We’ll wait a couple of months to see how it works out for them,” Central City Borough Council President Dan Dabbs said. “I don’t know when we’ll bring it up a for a vote. But we will discuss it.”

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