Commissioners want to save police barracks

Centre officials send letter of support to Wolf

BELLEFONTE — The Centre County Board of Commissioners have put their full support behind saving the Philipsburg State Police barracks.

At the May 5 meeting, the commissioners unanimously approved sending a drafted letter to Gov. Tom Wolf, a letter which asks the governor to reconsider his decision to close it.

With the barracks facing consolidation with the Rockview State Police barracks into a new station in Benner Township, the commissioners believe they need to stress the importance of the barracks.

“I think we owe it to our citizens to be their voice in this matter,” said Commissioner Steve Dershem.

The letter will be sent to all state legislators who represent the county in the hopes of it having an impact on the discussion moving forward, Dershem said. The letter will also be sent to the commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police, Tyree Blocker.

“It pinpoints the tens of thousands of citizens who currently receive state police protection and talks about Centre County being the fourth largest county in the state,” said Commissioner Mark Higgins. “I don’t know if it mentions it, but the county population is the second fastest growing in the state as well.”

Another issue is that if consolidation does occur, the new station will be quite a long distance from where the Philipsburg barracks currently stands, which will create slow response times for the police to reach citizens. According to Dershem, there are 30 miles between Benner Township and Philipsburg Borough.

“State police presence is critical in this region of the county,” reads part of the letter. “To remove the visibility and timeliness of this essential state police protection places our citizens at risk.”