Pennsylvania State Police barracks in Ephrata to close

After much debate, Lancaster County's state police Troop J headquarters in East Lampeter Township will remain open, but the barracks in Ephrata will be shut down.

The Ephrata barracks are a casualty of state budget cuts. State Representative Gordon Denlinger, R-99th District, which includes Ephrata, said the Lancaster County delegation fought hard against the decision.

"There was a serious effort made to try to bring some balance into this and to fight for this station, but this is a time of tight budgets," he said.

Troopers currently stationed in Ephrata will report to Troop J headquarters. People who depend on state police coverage said they're concerned about longer response times.

"We actually had an incident once. It was in the middle of the night  and someone was breaking in," said Melissa Speilman. "And they were pretty responsive, but it still took them 15-20 minutes to get there."

PSP officials had considered closing Troop J as well and moving operations to Reading, but decided against it.

"I'm glad they're keeping that one open," said Christopher DeHart, who lives in Ephrata. "I mean, if they're all the way in Reading, we'd probably never get state troopers out here. Unless there's a homicide or something."

Rep. Denlinger said the county delegation will continue to monitor the new arrangement to ensure the affected communities are getting adequate police coverage.

"If we sense there is a sort of diminishing of public safety, I think we'll go back after it in a future year and see what can be done," Denlinger said.

By law, PSP must hold a public hearing to discuss the changes. A date for that hearing has not yet been set. The Ephrata barracks are set to close on August 17th.