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Lock Haven Police getting new headquarters

Lock Haven city officials, along with U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, stand next to a rendering of the new building.
Lorena Beniquez
Lock Haven city officials, along with Sen. Bob Casey, stand next to a rendering of the new building.

One million dollars in federal funding is heading to Lock Haven to construct a new building for the city’s police department. The new headquarters will be more than just a place to consolidate the police force. It will be a crucial tool to combat the region's fentanyl crisis.

“We have to make sure every law enforcement agency in the commonwealth has the resources, tools and personnel in the workplaces that will allow law enforcement officials to combat this scourge,” said Sen. Bob Casey who announced the funding during a press conference on May 30 at Lock Haven City Hall.

Because of Lock Haven’s proximity to Williamsport, the small city must deal with big city problems.

“There is a lot of [fentanyl] traffic from Philadelphia to Williamsport,” said Matthew Rickard, Lock Haven’s police chief.

He added State College also attracts drug trafficking.

“That puts us in the middle,” Rickard said.

Since Lock Haven’s police department is the sole department providing 24-hour coverage in Clinton County, their work is critical in combating fentanyl’s impact. To effectively do that, they must attract officers and retain them for that fight. With the police department spread out over two floors in City Hall, the workplace is not attractive to potential candidates.

“The conditions we are working in now are deplorable,” said Rickard.

According to Rickard, there is a hole in the patrol room’s floor that opens to the basement and the women’s locker room floods every time the shower is used in the men’s locker room. And, there is no place to separate combative detainees, posing a health risk for officers and staff.

“We are losing officers to other police departments that are modernized with nice facilities,” said the police chief.

“Obviously, the worksite for any organization is critically important and for the police department to have a safe and efficient workplace is critically important. It helps in terms of retention….Retention in any workplace has an impact on the community they serve - in this case it’s the residents of Lock Haven as well as visitors,” said Sen. Casey.

The new 6,000 square foot police headquarters will be a brick structure built in a city parking lot across from City Hall.

“It is historical looking and has strength and stability,” said Scott Loercher, the architect who designed the structure.

Loercher added that it was important to design a building that would meld with the surrounding historical architecture. Construction is expected to start next spring.