With the stroke of a few pens, Stewartstown formally joined the Southern Regional Police Department on Thursday, ending two years of work to bring the town into the regional police service.

"Tonight is the culmination of a long journey," police commission chairman John Trout said during the commission meeting. "This adds another spoke to the wheel."

Representatives from four boroughs -- Stewartstown, Glen Rock, Shrewsbury and New Freedom -- that are member municipalities ceremoniously signed an inter-governmental agreement, the final touch to bring Stewartstown into the fold.

Stewartown's four-man department will cease operations at the end of the year, and Southern Regional will begin providing service to the borough on Jan. 1.

Southern Regional also provides service to the Southern York County School District and the boroughs of Loganville and Railroad.

New officer: Three of Stewartown's four officers -- Shannon Hilliard, Jeffrey Carey Jr and Kory Saylor -- were given oaths by district judge Jeff Joy to join the regional department.

The fourth officer was not hired by the department, Trout said.

"We need one additional officer," he said, adding the hiring process is underway.

Southern Regional Police Chief James Boddington said it makes sense for the four boroughs to be covered by a single police department since officers from Stewartstown and Southern Regional often run into the same criminals.

"The clowns from Stewartstown are the same clowns in our area," he said. "They go back and forth, and it'll be good for us to be able to share information."

The chief had said he plans to work from the police station in Stewartstown a few hours a week as residents there get used to the new department. The station will shuttered after a few months.

Savings: Stewartstown is projected to save more than $100,000 a year in police costs after it buys into the department.

With about $118,000 in physical assets, Stewartstown will put forward $370,000, spread out over a four-year period, to buy in.

At $123,380, first-year costs are higher because of a need to re-mark Stewartstown's police fleet and to buy new equipment. The borough will then pay $82,140 each year for the next three years.

Stewartstown, which budgeted about $445,000 for its four-man department in 2013, will see savings after the buy-in process is finished. Without the buy-in costs, the borough would be paying $331,599 for regional service in 2014.

Saving money was one of the driving factors for the borough to join the department, said Gordon Wisnom, Sr., president of the Stewartstown council.

"I'm really glad we finally finalized (the merger) and I hope it works well," he said.

-- Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.