Resident urges city to retake authority over law enforcement

The police force is controlled by a semi-independent police commission, not the city.
FARRELL, Pa. -- The chairman of an anti-drug coalition wants the city to take back control of its police force.
Olive Brown, who leads Endorse Resistance of All Substance Abuse Everywhere and is coordinator of the Farrell-Sharon Weed & amp; Seed program, told Farrell City Council on Monday that she is tired of having her "life controlled by part-time police officers."
The city needs a force of full-time officers who are responsible and understand the community, she said.
Farrell joined with Wheatland in 1992 to form the Southwest Mercer County Regional Police Department, turning its police force over to a commission of elected officials from member municipalities.
Where Farrell once had all full-time officers, the regional force has 16 full-time and eight part-time positions.
Mayor William Morocco, who is one of Farrell's representatives on the police commission, said the part-time officers "are really trying to do their best."
However, Councilman Rudy Hammond supported Brown's position, contending that the part-time officers aren't always compassionate to the community's problems.
"They could care less who they are talking to," he said.
Councilwoman Rev. Jeannette Hooks agreed with Hammond.
Taking back control of the police force is something the city isn't financially able to do at this point, Morocco said.
Perhaps if businesses locating in the tax-free state Keystone Opportunity Zone in the city were to make annual contributions to cover emergency services, the city could consider it, he said.
Councilman Mark Petrillo, a retired city firefighter, agreed, saying if development takes off in the city, revenues will rise enough to allow Farrell to look at restoring its police department as well as restoring its fire department to a full-time paid force.

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