State Police Coverage of Municipalities

By Bradley Keen , Budget Analyst | 3 years ago
Public Safety Analyst: Bradley Keen, Budget Analyst

This Budget Briefing provides detail regarding state police coverage of municipalities in Pennsylvania.

Two-thirds of Pennsylvania municipalities rely on state police for part- or full-time patrol services in lieu of a full-time local police force. The area covered only fulltime for patrol and response by Pennsylvania State Police is mostly rural, and covers 81 percent the commonwealth’s land mass, but just 26 percent of residents. As PSP costs continue to rise by about 5% per year, and the Fiscal Code cap on Motor License Fund (MLF) appropriations limits available funding from that source, how the commonwealth funds state police to provide these services has become a growing concern.

In some years, like 2017, state police provided coverage to numerous new municipalities. In others, like 2018, the net change in the area covered was close to zero. Over the long term, despite year-to-year changes, the total area for which state police provides coverage has remained relatively stable (see appendix for additional data tables).

While the coverage area is not radically changing, the cost is growing. Patrol costs increased 5 percent per year on average over the last 10 years, and Pennsylvanian taxpayers – including those who live in areas with local police – pick up the tab for these state police services.

Fees for State Police Services

The state police’s role as primary law enforcement in certain areas, and not in others, has long raised questions of equity. In response, policy makers have proposed various remedies including studies on efficiency, fees on municipalities with state police coverage, and policies to incentivize participation in regional police departments. The current proposal takes into account the fact that the state police provide certain services to all municipalities, regardless of whether or not they have their own full time local coverage.

Gov. Wolf’s New Proposal

Gov. Wolf has proposed a fee on all municipalities for their use of state police services. The fee is predicated on station coverage costs, which are driven by incidents and coverage area, and considers various factors, including population and household income. It is further weighted for municipalities benefitting from full-time or part-time services. A detailed description of the equation is available in the appendix. Calculations of the per capita fee are estimated to range between $0.25 and $146.55. If Gov. Wolf’s proposal is implemented, it would raise an estimated $136 million. The average per capita fee for municipalities with full-time state police coverage would be $32.55.

  Municipalities Area Population Average Per-Capita Fee
Full-Time PSP    1,310 50.95%    32,742 72.22%      2,592,835 20.32%  $                                   32.55
Part-Time PSP       409 15.91%      4,155 9.16%          748,221 5.86%  $                                   13.53
Full-Time Local       852 33.14%      8,440 18.62%      9,421,037 73.82%  $                                     4.10
Total    2,571 100.00%    45,337 100.00%    12,762,093 100.00%  $                                   20.10
Data Sources: PSP, Municipality coverage as of Jan. 2020; US Census Bureau, 2010 Census

Follow this link to find the proposed fees for all municipalities.


Est. Per Capita Fee=(PSP Station Yearly CostPopulation of All Municipalities Served by the Station)*PSP Usage Factor*Household Income Tier Factor

Insert Equation

Est. Municipalty Fee=PSP Station Yearly CostPopulation ofAll Municipalities Served by the Station*PSP Usage Factor*Household Income Tier Factor*(Municipality Population)

Insert Equation

The PSP Usage Factor is calculated using the following table:

PSP Utilization


Full-Time PSP


Part-Time PSP


Full-Time Local Police


The Median Income Tier Factor is calculated using the following table:

Municipality Household Income





















Municipality Population

Total Station Population

Household Income

PSP Station

Yearly Station Cost

Proposed Municipality Fee

Proposed Per Capita Fee


Avondale Borough




PSP Avondale




(Note: Demographic data provided by the State Data Center, station cost provided by Pennsylvania State Police, January 2020)

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State Police Coverage of Municipalities

By Bradley Keen , Budget Analyst | 3 years ago
Public Safety Analyst: Bradley Keen, Budget Analyst

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