The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 2, 2012

‘What else could have happened’

Shooting prompts upgrades at police station

The Tribune-Democrat

— Richland Township officials are hiring consultants to determine whether security upgrades are warranted at the township’s police station. The action comes in the wake of a shotgun blast to a police cruiser and the threatening of two officers at gunpoint.

Although it apparently is a first for such violence at the Schoolhouse Road headquarters, looking at ways to improve safety and security is valid.

“Incidents like this are a good opportunity to consider other scenarios,” police Chief Michael Burgan said.

We agree and, although no one can predict the future, we applaud township officials on their quick response.

A Richland-area man has been charged with shooting into a parked cruiser and then aiming at two officers, one of whom subsequently wounded the man before any additional shots could be fired.

“Anytime something like this happens – whether it’s an attack on a police office or theater or any building – you have the opportunity to look back and think about what else could have happened,” Burgan said.

Richland headquarters are housed in a complex with other township offices, some of which have frequent visitors.

The complex is a stone’s throw from Richland schools, the Pitt-Johnstown campus and Penn Highlands Community College.

Consultants will be expected to study current security measures, holding cells and other areas and to make recommendations.

And while supervisors say they have no preconceived ideas on costs, we’re sure they will agree that you can’t put a price tag on saving lives and keeping township workers and residents safe.

What has taken place in Richland – as well as the response in the aftermath – should have other municipal and school officials asking, “What if?”

Every day, life presents risks to us all. While no one in Richland should be panicked by a lone incident such as what happened on Sept. 13, it should serve as a learning experience.

Altering buildings or offices or doing simple things such as changing habits can go a long way to making us safer.

Richland officials are offering a good example.

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