Editor’s Note: The following is a statement submitted to BeaverCountian.com by District Attorney David Lozier. It comes in response to the Brady Paul Memorial Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police’s endorsement of Nathan Bible, his political challenger in November’s general election. We are publishing Lozier’s statement in full as written by the incumbent.
The Pa State Police FOP covering Beaver County voted last week to endorse my opponent in this year’s District Attorney election. My opponent is crowing over the PSP not endorsing me as the incumbent, so I need to respond.
So why did the PSP-FOP endorse a part-time public defender with little criminal trial experience and no management experience to run an office with 5,000 prosecutions per year, over 50 full-time and part-time employees and a $4 million budget? The PSP-FOP leadership has one purpose—protect PSP jobs. I was specifically told by the Head of the FOP, minutes after the vote, that I was not endorsed for one reason—-my support for Regional Police Departments.
They are wrong and this is why. The PSP sees every small or struggling police department as an opportunity. They want our smaller municipalities to close their police departments and turn over all public safety to the PSP. This means job growth for PSP, job security. While we must recognize that communities save money using the PSP for their daily coverage, there are several problems with their solution. First, the PSP is in a recruiting crisis. They have been unable to fill their training classes for several years. The PSP recently lowered long-standing recruiting standards including eliminating the need for college credits and a lie detector test. With their high retirement rate and low recruiting rate, the PSP cannot fill the slots it currently has let alone provide the increased patrols that would be needed to cover more smaller communities or rural townships. Second, when a community turns its public safety over to the State it loses all control over coverage, personnel, and priorities. Citizens cannot turn to their Supervisors or Council members with complaints or questions. Third, many communities use their police for more than just patrol. Municipal police also perform code and local ordinance enforcement. Those services end with PSP coverage. Finally, when PSP covers a large area, such as Beaver County, with a fixed number of cars and Troopers, they must triage their calls. They tell you that they will respond to every call, but not when. A community using PSP for its daily patrol has no input in priorities or response times. They have no vote at the PSP table.
As the District Attorney of Beaver County, my job includes helping municipalities and police departments provide the best public safety possible. For this reason, I have gone into scores of municipal meetings over the past 8 years to explain options to municipalities facing police officer shortages and the increased cost of policing. I spend hours, if necessary, repeat trips if necessary, helping municipalities chose between their four options: policing status quo, contracting to a neighboring municipality for policing, PSP for free, or regionalizing their police. The choice is up to each community. But I give them the data and try and help them make their communities safe in whichever way they want to manage it. Some prefer the status quo, but those communities are struggling with the shrinking police job force and the sky-hi salaries being paid in neighboring Allegheny County. Some contract their policing, and that works too, but a community loses control when it contracts policing to another. Regionalizing turns a few smaller departments into one larger department able to fully staff its shifts, with better training and shift supervision, and able to pay competitive police salaries all for the same price they were paying for their separate part-time department. With a Regional Police Department, the community has a vote at the table when they hire police, hire a police chief, set standards and discuss response times and quality of services. The keys here are choice and local control. I present options and resources to communities. I support every department with the best training, forensic support, and modern equipment we can provide from my office to each department. PSP does not provide any choices or options or local control. They want the communities to close the doors to their departments. I will continue to offer choices to our municipalities, and fight to keep the decisions on public safety inside the local council chambers, not at the Butler Barracks or in Harrisburg.
As the District Attorney of Beaver County, I am proud of my work supporting all of the police departments of Beaver County. I created the Special Victims Unit comprised of highly qualified prosecutors and Detectives. This improved the quality of investigations, improved our support for these vulnerable women and children, and increased our prosecutorial success in domestic violence and child sex crimes. I fought to keep our courts open every day during Covid-19 so that we never dismissed a single case due to the backlog which has impacted counties nationwide. I have provided over $500,000 in drug fund to buy equipment, computers, cameras, and training for every department in Beaver County. I procured over $3,000,000 in grants over the past three years to purchase computers for over 100 police cruisers, to provide a common record management system to 28 police departments, and to acquire our own DNA and drug testing equipment so that Beaver County would have the embryo of its own DNA and drug labs. Our same-day results will beat the current 9-12 month wait for results from out-of-county labs.
I have great respect for the PSP. They are a high-quality professional department providing excellent patrol and forensic support for our County. Regardless of the PSP non-endorsement, I will continue to support the members of the Pa State Police and will provide all the resources my office can render in our common goal of public safety. It really does not bother me that my strong support for the municipal police departments and communities of Beaver County cost me their endorsement. I did the right thing and Beaver County knows it.
I did what I said I was going to do!
Beaver County District Attorney