Disappearing departments: Local forces struggling to find officers as state of Pennsylvania help increases

Portage Borough Police Department Chief Edward Miller has worn the uniform for 43 years, starting out working part-time for several departments and working up the ranks to his current job.

But it is a lot harder now to be a police officer than what it used to be. And it’s getting harder to find people willing to wear the badge.

“I don’t know what the problem is anymore,” Miller said.

It’s why small-town police departments across Pennsylvania are going out of service, creating a ripple effect that lawmakers on all levels are trying to find a solution for.

“Most part-timers will work for several departments and their goal would be to land a full-time job with another department,” Miller said.

Because while crime doesn’t pay, being an officer in a small-town department doesn’t pay much either. Many officers coming out of the academy take these part-time gigs with an hourly wage, no benefits, and usually must string together a schedule that usually means no days off.