Meeting held to discuss future of Jenkintown Police Department as officials push for shutdown

Officials say disbanding the department and working with another could save the borough more than $400,000.

Katie Katro Image
Tuesday, February 27, 2024
Meeting discusses future of Jenkintown Police Department as officials push for shut down
Meeting discusses future of Jenkintown Police Department as officials push for shut down

JENKINTOWN, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Community leaders held a meeting Monday night to discuss the future of the Jenkintown Police Department in Montgomery County - and whether it should be closed.

Borough leaders say operating the 11-member force uses half of its budget and that it would be more cost-effective to shut it down.

Should it be shut down, Jenkintown would get police service from neighboring departments.

Officials say they could contract with Abington or Cheltenham police.

At the meeting, which was held at Jenkintown High School, residents spoke out against losing their police department.

"It's absurd... these police officers know my kids by first name. They're such a great group, and if they bring another township in here, it's not going to be the same," said Bill Granieri from Jenkintown.

Despite resident concerns, members of the local police force are confident the area will be in good hands.

"If we were to contract another agency, the police service is not going to change. It's going to be just as good or better depending on what agency we get," said Chief Thomas Scott with Jenkintown Borough Police.

In addition to half of the borough's budget funding the small department, officials say the cost, coupled with higher taxes, has put a burden on Jenkintown residents.

The discussion follows a 2020 report on Jenkintown police, which was completed by an outside consultant. It recommended 90 changes for the department, with many issues boiling down to money.

Operating the police department currently costs about $2.5 million.

"Why now? This police department is being targeted for elimination," said Steven Heath from Cheltenham.

Officials say disbanding the department, and working with another, could save the borough more than $400,000.

Residents argue that they feel their safety is in jeopardy.

"It is not fair for these guys and for this borough to lose their police department," said Anne Gerhart from Jenkintown.

The Jenkintown Police Benevolent Association opposes the plan as well, calling it shortsighted.

Organization officials released the following statement on the issue:

"On behalf of the Jenkintown Police Benevolent Association, we'd like to say we are disheartened over the continuous talks of the disbandment of our 130+ year old department. With that being said we are equally encouraged by the overwhelming support the community has shown us. We know there are other solutions and we look forward to coming together as a community to finding and implementing these solutions. We are hopeful for the opportunity to continue to serve the residents and patrons of Jenkintown with the community oriented policing they've grown to love."

The Jenkintown police chief stated that it is still unclear whether this potential change will happen.