The Chester Borough Police force may increase in numbers in 2013, if Chief of Police Andre Kedrowitsch has his way.
When speaking to the mayor and council in Tuesday’s meeting Kedrowitsch said that his department was understaffed and was due for an increase.
“This is based on my belief that we are understaffed. We need a lot more officers. Officers are working by themselves out there,” Kedrowitsch said. “We’ve had incidents increase year over year and I have been saying it for four years since I took over as Chief. It is an officer safety issue and we need bodies.”
According to Kedrowitsch, a department of eight men is insufficient to properly police Chester Borough.
“We had a study done 15 years ago that said we were short on staff then,” Kedrowitsch said. “And that was before we built two more malls and more housing. Technically we should have two officers on a shift. Two on days and two on nights.”
Kedrowitsch said that when officers are on a shift working alone they sometimes have to call in a supervisor for backup or call in Chester Township for backup, and both choices have their problems.
“If you call in a supervisor it can take them both off the road and incur overtime,” Kedrowitsch said. “And now we run into the whole premise of the Township saying in certain instances we’ll help you, but they are keeping statistics over there on how many times we have to help them. I hear rumblings that they don’t feel we should help them all the time and we should properly staff our department.”
Kedrowitsch said he was looking to have 10-12 members in his department.
“The area around us is growing. We may be a small community but around us is growing,” Kedrowitsch said. “And that brings more people into town to shop in our stores.”
Mayor Bob Davis asked Kedrowitsch for more numbers to support his need.
“My point is, you say those things but we don’t see data. When I see the court data it declines 20 percent a year,” Davis said. “I’m just trying to understand. For us to make a decision to move to one more police officer we need to see data.
Kedrowitsch said he provided the data monthly to the council and while he acknowledges there is an expense, his concern still remains the safety of his officers.
“We’re dealing with real stuff. Guns. The need for backup is real,” Kedrowitsch said. “Its not 30 years ago.”