Get our newsletters

Richland Township authorizes hiring new police officer


Richland Township has authorized the addition of another police officer, bringing the total to 15. The new total is projected to be realized by the end of the year, via the return to duty of an injured officer.

While some township personnel have been working from home due to the pandemic, the 24/7 police department is operating fully in its normal shifts.

The unanimous vote to add the additional officer was taken at the April 13 public board of supervisors meeting, which was held as usual in the township building meeting room, but with public presence only via live-stream, and the opportunity to email comments and questions in real time. Township staff was represented only by Township Manager Paul Stepanoff, Office Administrator Tracey Virnelson, and Police Chief Rich Ficco, with Solicitor Linc Treadwell available via speaker phone.

The township building is in lockdown, with two employees rotating 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., as is the public works department. All major government functions are continuing. The real estate tax period has been extended to July 30, while the earned income tax is understood to follow the new IRS deadline of July 15.

The addition of the police officer followed Chief Ficco’s statement of the cost, which he had been asked to have ready for the April 13 supervisors meeting after an extensive presentation on the matter at the March 9 meeting by an independent consultant. The consultant had noted Richland’s police staffing was among the lowest in the county on a percapita basis; the average nationwide on that basis would be 21 officers; and that present calls for service and service hours could justify 18 officers.

As an additional crisis information source, Stepanoff noted that residents who don’t have internet can take advantage of their school district’s 1620 AM radio, as well as sign up for alerts on their cell phones. Those who cannot reach the township website for signup links can call 267-680-7855. The alert service already goes out to land lines per the 911 database.