Big Run still seeks way to create police

BIG RUN — Big Run Borough Council heard a possible solution to its police problems at Monday’s meeting, but actual funding for such a program is still the main obstacle.

Brian Lyons, a former Sykesville and Summerville police officer who also served as a police chief of a regional police department, said he’s been following council’s discussions about hiring a police officer for the borough.

He also proposed a solution: With available grant funds, the cost of any officer for Big Run would be $97 per year per taxpayer. If combining with Gaskill Township, it would cost $45 per taxpayer per year.

Lyons said if Big Run combined with both Gaskill and Henderson Township, the cost would fall to $19 per year per taxpayer.

Mayor Joe Buterbaugh, who oversees any police department in the borough, said the problem with having any type of police coverage in Big Run is it will require grant funding or other outside funds.

“We’re going to have to rescind (Ordinance No. 144) to take away the police department,” he said. “You’re talking over $60,000 per officer for four days a week per year, and we are at a standstill until we can obtain any kind of outside funding.”

Buterbaugh said Lyons’ idea would depend on persuading the other two municipalities to join forces with Big Run.

“Each member of council has the information, and can review it and form their own opinions on the matter,” he said.

“A lot of things have to happen before the police department can come into effect,” Buterbaugh said, asking for Lyons to keep in contact with council.

Lyons said in 1974, council passed ordinance No. 144, which created the police officer position in the borough.

“Even though there hasn’t been a borough officer in recent memory, council would not have to re-create the position because it sill exists,” even though it has been inactive,” he said.

Lyons said in 1994, the county hired Bob Shaffer, Clarion Borough Polic chief, to perform a feasibility study about the possible creation of a regional police force.

“At that time, I worked in both Sykesville and Summerville, which was actually a regional police department, even though they hadn’t gone through the formalities to do so. Their patrols covered four different municipalities,” Lyons said. “In the mid-90s, Sykesville talked about regional police coverage with Troutville to be paid for with federal grants, but police officers could not be contracted out at that time.”

Lyons also said that last August, Big Run talked with Sykesville about sharing police officers, and idea that come to fruition.