Too Many Chiefs, Pittsburgh PA


Does Allegheny County Have Too Many Redundancies in Law Enforcement?

While everyone grumbles about paying taxes, we know that taxes are necessary. They fund our government, support our municipal services, and pay for law enforcement. The costs for all of those things seem to keep escalating, which drives taxes up, which unfortunately, sends some people fleeing for friendlier tax regions.

Allegheny County has experienced this cycle. Since 1960, the county has lost 400,000 residents, falling from a peak population of 1.63 million to 1.43 today. There are 130 municipalities in Allegheny County including the City of Pittsburgh, and while many of those communities have lost residents, few of them have taken measures to reduce the tax burden on individuals. In fact, of the 130 municipalities in Allegheny County, a mere 17 have abolished their police force altogether or consolidated with neighboring communities to combine police forces. This prompts the question: Does Allegheny County have too many chiefs?

With a dwindling population and fewer tax dollars filling municipality treasuries, some say yes. On the other hand, for those areas of the county with higher crime rates, you would be hard pressed to convince residents that they don’t need the added police protection. At the same time, in areas where crime is very low, most residents appreciate the work their local police do for them and would be hesitant to mess with success. When residents need the police, they want them immediately; they don’t want to have to wait for a cruiser to have to come a greater distance because they now have a larger territory to cover. It also makes sense for a community to have a good rapport with law enforcement and that means a localized police force.

As purse strings get tighter and if our population loss does not stabilize, many municipalities may have to find a way to strike a delicate balance between keeping their police forces and keeping taxpayers.