Future of law enforcement in Scranton unknown

Law enforcement in Scranton a month from now is uncertain.

Scranton has contracted for law enforcement with the sheriff’s office since 2011. The Greene County supervisors on Monday approved canceling the contract that has been in place since then, effective Aug. 10. The supervisors also canceled a contract for providing municipal code enforcement services (for example, enforcement of junk car ordinances).

Every town except Jefferson contracts with the sheriff’s office for law enforcement. The contracts are all similar except for the one with Scranton. The Scranton contract includes animal control in the city limits and specifies that a deputy be in Scranton daily at set hours.

The proposed new contract removes animal control and specifies only the number of times per day a deputy will be in Scranton, not when that will be. The change is primarily for consistency, according to sheriff Jack Williams. There is no increase in price this year, but Williams has notified the towns of a 10 percent increase in price effective July 1, 2018.

The Scranton city council at its regular meeting Tuesday discussed the matter at length with about 55 persons in attendance. Many of them were there to support the reappointment of Doug Hawn to the community center board. That was the last business taken up at the end of a three-hour meeting. Hawn was reappointed.

About law enforcement, mayor Randy Winkelman said he is dissatisfied with both the law enforcement and the municipal enforcement now being provided, saying it feels like Scranton has to beg the sheriff’s office for service. Winkelman suggested an agreement with other towns to hire their own officer, but said he is concerned the law enforcement center would not be cooperative. The residents at the meeting did not favor starting their own police department.

County supervisor Dawn Rudolph was at the meeting. She is a Scranton resident and a former Scranton city council member. She said the Scranton contract was written so as to ease the transition going from a Scranton PD to using the sheriff’s office. She added that the sheriff’s office has the same number of deputies as it had before adding Scranton and Grand Junction to its responsibilities.

“We’re still looking at options. We’re not going to go into it blind. We’re going to do more search,” Winkelman said before the council tabled the discussion.

The Scranton council meets next on Aug. 8. If the council fails to approve a contract with the sheriff’s office, the city of Scranton will have no law enforcement. (The Scranton Journal contributed to this post.)

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