Myerstown Borough does not have a local, regional, or contracted police force.
Non-Emergency - State Police Dispatch: (717) 865-2194
Non- Emergency - Lebanon County Dispatch: (717) 272-2054
The Borough used to have a police force, however, due to budgetary constraints, closed the department in 2012. The Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) cover the Borough at no fee.
The System for Providing Police in the Commonwealth is Broken
For the most part, municipalities in Pennsylvania — even third class cities — are not required to have local police. Those that do not provide local police are able to use state police for free as the default service provider. So the question is not whether there are police services in a municipality but rather who foots the bill. Approximately half of communities pay for some level of local police coverage. Police coverage in the other half of municipalities — some of them wealthy with thousands of residents — is paid for by all state residents, including those residents who are also paying for their own local police, raising the issue of fairness and equity.
Communities that make an investment in their own local police force incur about twice the municipal tax burden of those that rely on free PSP coverage. Local police are generally one of the largest, if not the largest, expense for those municipalities that have them. Municipalities that have local police spent over $2 billion on those services in 2014 or an average of $230 per person. That money primarily comes from local taxes, although municipalities do receive some state aid to defray pension costs. Approximately 10 million Commonwealth residents are served by local police.
Meanwhile, the state police estimated in 2017 that it cost $600 million to provide state police services to the 2.5 million residents in municipalities without local police. That figure is about half of the state police annual budget of approximately $1.2 billion. The bulk of money for the state police budget comes from the state Motor License Fund. The fund, which is generated by drivers’ license and registration fees and the state gasoline tax, is meant for the construction and repair of roads and bridges. In 2013, and again in 2018, the gasoline tax was increased to provide more money for roads and bridges projects. Currently, state police receive approximately $800 million from the fund that, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, generated $4.05 billion in 2014-15.
Policy makers need to modernize the unfair, antiquated system for providing police in the Commonwealth. All citizens should be able to receive the appropriate level of critical public safety services at a rate that does not send some into municipal fiscal distress while leaving other communities unscathed and, indeed, being subsidized by their often less fiscally fortunate neighbors.