A number of law enforcement and elected officials in York County said a regional police service recommended in a recently released study would work.
But it would take a lot of doing to get the public to see its benefits.
"I don't think that's an option right now," said Brian Wilson, a West York councilman. "It would take a lot for officials to get off their high horses."
While he's in favor of moving toward a regional police service that would include the borough, York City and surrounding municipalities, and possibly creating a countywide police department, Wilson said it would be a hard sell to residents and elected officials in the borough and in surrounding municipalities.
"At this point, they (borough residents) feel as though they are well-protected right now by the police department we have," he said.
Study: In a study released by the York County Community Foundation on Monday, nine municipalities that participated were told they could shave 9 percent off police budgets if they all joined one large department.
If realized, the consolidated department would cover York City; Springettsbury, Spring Garden, Dover, Manchester and East Manchester townships; and West York, Mount Wolf and Manchester boroughs.
A number of other options laid out in the study called for other regional departments to be created.
All told, 21 municipalities were asked to take part in the study. Many did not.
The five police departments that participated were Northeastern Regional, York City, West York, Spring Garden Township and Springettsbury Township.
Regional: With five regional police departments in the county, consolidated policing has a proven track record, said Chief Wes Kahley of York City Police.
"The blueprints are already here," he said.
York County is also home to the oldest consolidated police department in the state -- Northern York County Regional Police Department.
While the department didn't take part in the study, two of its eight member municipalities -- Dover and Manchester townships -- did.
Though not in favor of any of the consolidation options presented in the study, Chief Mark Bentzel of Northern York County Regional said the study raises an important issue that offers cost savings to municipalities while providing a high level of police service through regional policing.
"I don't think anyone would argue that wouldn't be the way to go," he said. "We know it works."
Two townships: One options in the study is for Springettsbury and Spring Garden townships to combine their police departments. That would save the townships 9.95 percent, according to the study.
Since the townships have combined their fire services to form York Area United Fire and Rescue Co., which also serves Mount Wolf and Manchester, a joint police service isn't too far fetched, said Springettsbury Township Supervisor Don Bishop.
"I don't think it would be a bad idea for Springetts and Spring Garden to have a discussion," he said.
But, Bishop added, a combined fire service presented perks and incentives straightaway.
Fire apparatus is expensive, and it made little sense to have the same equipment housed in stations just a few miles apart.
Combining police departments doesn't present the same immediate benefits.
"I'm not sure that I really see the same kind of benefits," he said. "We're really happy with our department."
Working together: Not all options include fully consolidated police services.
Rather, the study suggested that current departments share services, such as training and police vehicle fleet management.
Kahley said most police departments in the county already have a working relationship and share a number of services.
For example, city police and police from other departments aid West Manchester Township Police in patrolling the York Expo Center during the York Fair.
By the same token, surrounding departments help York City Police when needed, and city detectives lend their services to their brethren in other departments, Kahley said.
Apprehension: The study highlights what could keep residents and municipal officials from combining services with other municipalities. They include: a loss of "their" police department, reduced coverage in suburban municipalities because of the workload in York City, and a "perceived difference in policing styles" among departments.
Calling the fears that municipalities could lose police officers from their streets because they'd be patrolling York City unfounded, Kahley said departments determine which areas require a higher police presence while ensuring that officers patrol other areas and are available to respond to calls.
"I understand people's concerns, but it's something we have to get over," he said.
Bentzel pointed out that there are areas in Northern York County Regional's jurisdiction that have higher crime numbers than other areas.
"It doesn't just have to be the City of York," he said.
Countywide: Most police and elected officials said the study could spur discussion of creating a countywide police service, which some say makes a lot of sense.
"It's where we need to go in law enforcement in Pennsylvania," Kahley said. "(The study is) a great starting point."
That would save taxpayers money and bring stability to local governments' budgets, he said.
Criminals don't stop at municipal boundaries, and police don't have to either, Kahley said.
While an advocate for a countywide system, Kahley said he doesn't think it will come to fruition in his lifetime, let alone his career.
Wilson said he also sees the benefits of having a countywide police department. It will just take a lot to educate the public to its benefits.
"I'm a big advocate for regionalization," he said. "It would take a lot for us to come together."
-- Reach Greg Gross at firstname.lastname@example.org.