The debate over the future of West York's police department has been contentious all along.

Now it's just plain ridiculous.

Or, in the words of the borough council's own solicitor -- irresponsible.

The borough's contract with its police department is up at the end of this year, and in early February the council voted to send requests for police service costs to five area departments. Of those five, only York City and Northern York County Regional returned proposals.

Two weeks ago during a raucous public meeting, the borough council voted 4-3 against pursuing those offers. This was after hearing nearly two hours of comments from residents -- almost all of them supporting the borough's own police department.

The problem isn't that the council declined to pursue the proposals. It's that the four members voting against the bids also decided to shred them, sight unseen.

It was jaw-dropping that the members made their decision without even seeing if they could have saved money with another department. It turns out both offers -- obtained from York City and Northern Regional -- were cheaper.

That act of immaturity was hard to top.

But those same four council members did just that this week.

At Monday's council meeting, the police union presented a new, $3.74 million three-year contract proposal. But instead of being the beginning of the process, it was over that same evening.

Against the advice of their solicitor -- who was not at the meeting but was contacted by phone -- members Brian Wilson, Shelly Metzler, Annette "Chickie" Christine and Dawn Shue approved the contact at that very same meeting.

Council president Steve Herman, who adjourned the meeting to call the lawyer, said the solicitor had advised voting on the contract without it being reviewed by an attorney hired to represent the borough during negotiations would be irresponsible.

He added there was no opportunity for either side to negotiate.

The new contract calls for a 2 percent raise for officers over its life, and their union representative said the language is virtually identical to the current one.

And taking into account the borough's pension obligations to officers -- which it would have even if the department disbanded -- the contract is competitive with York City and Northern Regional's proposals, according to the union.

We have no reason to doubt any of those claims.

But we're not labor attorneys -- and neither are those four council members.

Is the contract fair and the best possible deal that could be negotiated for West York taxpayers?

Once again, they'll never know.

This was an unbelievably reckless move.