Having served as the acting police chief for West York since the beginning of September, Matt Millsaps now will take a new title.
Millsaps is now the West York Borough public safety director after the West York borough council unanimously approved his contract Monday night. On top of his duties and responsibilities as police chief, Millsaps will take over administrative control of the borough’s paid firefighters.
After a warm round of applause from members of the public and council in honor of National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, West York Mayor Shawn Mauck hailed the finalizing of Millsaps’ contract.
“Congratulations, sir. It’s well warranted,” Mauck told Millsaps.
After the meeting, Mauck said he was glad the contract negotiations were finally over.
“(Millsaps) is worth every dollar. He’s doing just a tremendous job,” Mauck said, adding that he is proud of the entire West York Police Department for embracing a slew of administrative changes over the last few months.
Millsaps will earn a base salary of $120,000 a year, comparable to former West York Police Chief Justin Seibel's salary, Mauck said. Seibel earned closer to $150,000 a year after overtime was factored in, but Millsaps will not earn any overtime in his dual role, Mauck said.
'We’ve come a long way': The agreement between the council and Millsaps shuts the door on an unpleasant chapter in West York's recent history.
Seibel was placed on administrative leave in September, with Millsaps named acting police chief in his absence. Millsaps had been serving as a part-time officer with the West York Police Department before becoming acting police chief.
In November, the West York borough council approved a separation agreement with Seibel worth about $150,000 that included back pay, leave time and sick time, Mauck said at the time. No reason has been given for Seibel’s departure from the department, with officials declining to comment on the personnel issue.
Mauck also finds himself in a relatively new position within the borough’s government. Mauck took the step up from council president in October, after a month of backlash against former Mayor Charles Wasko’s racist Facebook posts.
“I think we have really come a long way since September,” Mauck said.
While one person can make a difference in changing perceptions, Mauck said Millsaps and the entire police department, borough employees and residents all deserve credit for helping West York turn a corner on the unseemly events that saw the borough make national headlines last year.
“We have good people here, and I think they’ve made a commitment to make West York a better place,” Mauck said. “Each person here has something special to offer, and I think for the first time in a long time, they feel like people recognize that.”
Pushing forward: Though much progress has been made in a short amount of time, Mauck admitted “West York still has a lot of work to do,” and he said he would continue to push for new initiatives in 2017.
Mauck said he is open to decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana in the borough and asked the council Monday to consider writing an ordinance giving police officers the option to cite residents for possession instead of arresting them.
West York has an opportunity to lead the county with an ordinance that would free up the department from hours of paperwork for marijuana arrests and allow police to focus on community policing and their “civic responsibility to the public,” Mauck said.
Millsaps said he supported the potential ordinance and encouraged the council to open a dialogue about the issue.
“I truthfully could intelligently make more of an argument of why we should prohibit alcohol and legalize marijuana than vice versa,” Millsaps said.
The department will work within its resources to take a “progressive and active stance” to reduce the amount of opiate-based drugs in the borough, Millsaps said. West York Police officers have been tasked with investigating violations of the Controlled Substances Act by following leads from physical and electronic evidence collected at the scene of overdoses, Millsaps said.
“We’re not going to just treat this like an ambulance call anymore,” Millsaps said. “We’re going to treat it like a crime scene, a criminal investigation, and we’re going to try to apprehend at least the street-level dealers, because that’s what we can do.”
In other business, the West York Borough Council passed a resolution for York County to continue to serve as the borough's tax collector in 2017 and approved a payment of over $77,000 to A. Restuccia Inc. for two paving and excavating projects.
Councilman Brian Wilson said he will not seek a third term on borough council in order to keep a promise he made regarding term limits.