State police address coverage concerns

Author: , Reporter, RHughes@wfmz.com
Published: Dec 09 2012 07:00:00 PM EST   Updated On: Dec 11 2012 06:57:21 AM EST
TOPTON, Pa. -

A changing of the guard in Topton, Berks Co., has some concerned for their safety.

In three weeks, the borough's police force is disbanding, and Pennsylvania State Police are taking over.

Since the transition was announced, there has been a lot of misunderstanding and a lot of speculation, said borough officials.

State police said adding Topton into their coverage area is no big deal, but some residents are fearing a rise in crime, and a longer response time.

"They're not going to get here as fast as if it were just Berks-Lehigh," said Heather Riegel, who has lived in the borough for two years.

Riegel and her neighbors are riding out the rest of the year atop a wave of worry. The big question, what will happen come January 1? That's when State Police will start covering the borough. It's a switch resident Donald Bennett fears will cause crime to spike.

"People are going to know it's going to take them 20 minutes to a half-hour to get here vs. 10 minutes, and they're issues now," said Bennett.

The Berks-Lehigh Regional Police Force currently patrols Topton, but the force is disbanding at the end of the year.

"The biggest rumor is it's not going to work.  I think there is the fear of the unknown," said Anthony Branco, borough manager.

Now, State Police want to put those fears to rest. Come January 1, they will also start covering Lyons, Maxatawny Township and Strausstown. State police said they have plenty of resources to cover Topton as well.

"We have cars out there, so to add Topton, it's not going to be a big deal," said Trooper David Beohm, Pennsylvania State Police.

State police will be fielding questions from residents and council members. The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. at Borough Hall. It is open to the public.