Regional Police Department positioned for growth
NEW BETHLEHEM, Pa. (RVO) – The first year, and especially the first several months of any startup comes with its challenges. The first six months for the newly established Southern Clarion County Regional Police Department (SCCRPD) has presented both challenges and successes.
Servicing the communities of New Bethlehem, Hawthorn, Rimersburg and East Brady, the newly formed entity was designed to share services, maintain consistency, and increase efficiency in policing efforts while keeping costs affordable.
“Despite the inevitable challenges, the department has positioned itself for sustainable growth,” said New Bethlehem mayor and president of the SCCRPD Board of Directors the Rev. Dr. Gordon Barrows. “It’s no secret we’ve had startup expenses, turnover, and a variety of delays; however, the department is alive and well, as we continue to make strategic moves to reduce expenses, recruit/retain employees, and plan for future expansion.
Barrows continued, “Members of the Regional Board and Police Association are especially grateful for the Chief’s leadership during these trying times of cultural, staffing and economic challenges.”
The regional police department’s board of directors is comprised of representatives and alternates from the four member municipalities, as well as the non-profit Southern Clarion Regional Police Association. Board members include Barrows and Dan Burkett, police association; Terry and Jennifer Beamer, Hawthorn; Donald Heeter and Bryan Ruth, New Bethlehem; Rimersburg Mayor Tim Yeany; and Justin Wagner and Joy McCluskey, East Brady.
Barrows explained the regional department was recently awarded the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) grant which provides financial aid to assist in the formation of a new Regional Police Department as well as allows established Regional Police Departments to expand their services.
“The department was blessed to be awarded this grant, which will alleviate a portion of the startup expenses,” Barrows said. He went on to say this grant has allowed the department to reallocate funds to reduce payroll expenses and increase wages.
“The grant is also funding the opportunity to send two applicants to the police academy,” he continued. “We currently have eight applicants who are vying for the chance to have the majority of their school expenses covered while also getting paid an hourly wage – it’s an excellent opportunity for someone to get into law enforcement.”
Representatives from the other participating municipalities agree.
“We need more police officers to grow the department,” Yeany said. “This grant is a great way to improve recruitment and retention.” He went on to say that successful candidates will be contractually obligated to work for the regional police department for two years following graduation from the police academy.
Burkett, who serves as the president of the Southern Clarion Police Association and chairman of the regional department’s finance committee, added that while they are pleased to receive this grant, long-term financial sustainability will come from strategic budgeting.
“If we want to keep the police force viable, we will need to continue seeking grant opportunities,” he said.
Barrows agreed, saying that the organization has already applied for another grant to further improve recruitment and retention efforts as well as replace aging equipment with the latest technology.
Recognizing that every new organization or startup business faces inevitable challenges, and overcoming adversity requires a team effort from many dedicated and committed individuals, Barrows offered words of thanks to Sandra Mateer, Susan Buechele, and Chief Robert Malnofsky for their concerted efforts to secure the grant funding.
He also thanked the volunteers of Southern Clarion County Police Association, the nonprofit community-policing group that functions as a separate entity to support the police department through community events and fundraisers.
Barrows said the new police force is catching the attention of other police departments across the state as representatives from DCED are referring other regional startups to SCCRPD’s working business model.
“Most recently, Clearfield Borough Police Department and Lawrence Township Police Department are progressing towards regionalization and looked to our department for advice,” Barrows said. He went on to say “the key to much of the successful efforts of the new department can be attributed to Malnofsky’s leadership.”
“Malnofsky uses a ‘firm but fair’ leadership approach which fosters trust and open communication by offering complete transparency,” Barrows continued. “He is driven by results, not politics. He motivates and engages others with a compelling mission and vision. Malnofsky nurtures a culture of accountability, and he has the assertiveness required to drive outcomes and the grit needed to prevail in adverse circumstances.”
Past president of New Bethlehem Borough Council, Sandra Mateer agrees. “I served on Borough Council from before Chief Malnofsky began his exemplary service to the Borough until December 2021 when my term ended. I worked closely with him in my roles on the Council and the police committee. I fully and unreservedly support the Chief as I can attest to his professionalism, integrity, character, and dedication to the department. He spends many unpaid hours and gives up vacation time, time off, bonuses and the much higher salary he could earn elsewhere to serve our communities.”
Mateer continued, “The irrefutable fact that previous secretaries donated many volunteer hours to support him in his efforts to improve the Department and Police Association cannot be denied. Unfortunately, the need for better benefits, more hours and salary than the Borough or Regional Department could pay was the primary reason for losing secretaries and police officers. We are extremely fortunate to have Chief Bob Malnofsky as our Chief of Police.”
Barrows said that anyone interested in applying to work for the new regional police department can find an employment application on their website: www.SCCRPD.com. He continued that anyone who would like to get involved in supporting the new police department through community events and fundraisers should consider joining the Southern Clarion County Police Association: www.SCPoliceAssociation.org.
Southern Clarion County Regional Police Department Meetings are held the 4th Thursday of each month at the Windstream/Alltel Building @ 7pm. Southern Clarion Police Association meetings are the 2nd Monday of each month; monthly rotation in East Brady @ East Brady Community Center, in New Bethlehem @ Redbank Valley Community Center and Rimersburg Municipal Building @ 7pm.
To contact any member of the Southern Clarion County Regional Police Department or the Southern Clarion Police Association, please visit: SCCRPD.com or SCPoliceAssociation.org. You may also ‘like/follow’ either organization on Facebook: FB.com/SCCRPolice or FB.com/SCPoliceAssociation