BENTLEYVILLE – An unused holding cell remains in the Bentleyville Municipal Building, as the complex opened about the same time the borough disbanded its police department eight years ago.
That’s about to change as a new police chief took office Tuesday in a reauthorized department that could expand to serve some nearby communities.
“The facility is here. It’s up and running,” said former Beallsville police Chief Richard Young while getting adjusted to his new role in Bentleyville.
The department’s new $37,000 police cruiser, a Ford Interceptor, arrived Tuesday afternoon as Young’s office was being remodeled to create more space and construct an evidence room.
The borough disbanded the police department when it was experiencing financial problems, and later relied on Southwest Regional police for patrols until that contract expired Monday. There has remained, however, strong local support for re-establishing a borough police department.
“People have been asking for a police department,” council Vice President Roy Larimer said.
Young said his first call Tuesday involved a vandalism complaint about slashed vehicle tires, but that there are many bigger crimes, such as heroin dealing, that need his attention.
The ordinance borough council approved in May to establish the department leaves open the possibility other officers can be hired.
“Once we get established we expect to contract with Cokeburg,” said Larimer, adding the new police department also has the potential to expand its patrols into neighboring Fallowfield Township.
“They have the opportunity to expand,” Larimer said Tuesday.
As for the next few weeks, Young said, he intends to focus on getting the police department’s computers in service.
He will work a 40-hour-a- week flexible schedule and be paid $20 an hour plus benefits.
“I’m looking forward to the opportunities down here,” he said.