CARROLLTOWN – Four decades ago, when rural police departments saw a need to improve radio communications, the Mainline Police Association of Cambria County was born.

The need for community dispatch has been replaced by a countywide 911 center. But the Mainline group now provides services of a different sort – from grants to refresher training – to the small rural police departments that still can feel isolated and in need of support.

The Mainline Association is observing its 30th anniversary in 2007, with a commitment to continue to provide a link for one another, said Kirk Moss, officer in charge of the Adams Township department and vice president of the group.

“We’ve always stayed in existence, and we’re determined to keep it going,” Moss said.

The group, which meets four times a year, recently elected a new slate of officers.

Veteran police Chief Joseph Stasik, who headed up the Gallitzin Township department for many years, is taking over as president of the group.

Stasik, 73, has been retired from active police work for about a decade. But he sees a need for a support group for smaller departments.

Dave Murphy, chief of the Carrolltown Police Department, is the group’s secretary-treasurer.

Police officers from Ebensburg and Croyle and Cambria townships also hold leadership positions.

The association was formed in 1967 under the leadership of the late Bill Frombach. He and a number of others set up a plan for townships and boroughs to pay for the dispatch service. For nearly 25 years, such service came from a center in the basement of the Cambria County Courthouse in Ebensburg.

About 15 years ago, when the county took over dispatch services, the Mainline group – with a small bankroll put aside – decided it should find ways to provide other services to its members, Murphy said.

“We got out of the radio business,” he said. “Now we try to help the police departments with grants.”

Education and refresher training also have become key roles for the group. As an increasing number of the 50 or so members start to look toward retirement, a greater emphasis is being placed on pension issues, Moss said.

Members come from as far north as Patton and as far south as Adams, Croyle and Summerhill townships, with 14 police departments in-volved, Murphy said.

The annual grants program is extended to every membership department and often is used as seed money to help attract larger grants.

Computer software has been a popular use for the grant program in recent years, as have printers and even highway spikes to stop drivers during police chases, Murphy said.

But the association goes far beyond money, Moss said.

“We think it’s important we keep this going,” he said. “It’s a tradition. It’s turned into a fraternal thing. We need to stick together.”

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