Police fees put York City event in jeopardy

Sean Philip Cotter

An annual basketball tournament that draws people from all around the area is in jeopardy after its organizer is struggling to pay the thousands of dollars in police fees the city wants for last year's event.

The flier for the Trey and Boo Classic Basketball Tournament.

Wayne Scott, the organizer of the Trey and Boo Classic Basketball Tournament, said the city wants just under $4,500 for police coverage for last year's event — money neither he nor the event has.

Scott, a local activist who organized the "Stop the Beef" anti-violence rallies a few years ago, is frustrated. He believes events such as this tournament that bring people from all parts of the city together and foster good feelings are particularly important, given the recent upticks in violence, often motivated by territorial beefs in the city.

"It's something we need, especially with all the violence and shootings lately," he said. "We’re gonna bring the city together in peace."

The two-day event is centered around a 16-team, five-on-five double-elimination basketball tournament also featuring further family-friendly attractions such as music, food, a bounce house and face painting, Scott said. The event draws more than 1,000 people, organizers said.

Right now, it's scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, June 25-26 — but that's assuming Scott gets a permit for it, which can only happen if he raises the money to pay the fee.

There's a gofundme page for the event that as of Tuesday evening had raised $740 of the target $4,500.

Scott said there have been no police incidents at his event, no confrontations more heated than the odd on-the-court scuffle. But York City Police Chief Wes Kahley says differently — a few years ago there was a shooting around the corner from the event, one time someone stole a referee's car, and last year a fight requiring police intervention broke out after rain forced the event inside, he said.

The chief said police presence is common at any event that draws a big crowd; the extent is in part determined by how previous events have gone. He said four officers were assigned to the event last year. One of the reasons the fee's so expensive is because these officers are being paid overtime — they're not usually the officers normally scheduled to be on duty, as that would tie up a significant portion of the shift's resources, Kahley said.

"The first time he held it, the city ate those costs," he said — Scott and the city came to an agreement where the city would provide the police presence for free, as long as Scott paid for it for the ensuing events once the tournament got off the ground.

No permit: York City Public Works director Jim Gross said a special-event permit application goes through several different city departments before it's given the go-ahead. For Gross, this decision was a straightforward one — they'd given Scott the invoice for last year's fees, and he hadn't paid it.

"We’re not going to issue a permit to someone who owes us money," he said. "He needs to get it paid. It needs to be taken care of."

He confirmed that if Scott did get it paid, he'd be able to have the event. There's no deadline, Gross said, but it'd be better to do so sooner rather than later, so everyone has time to get all their ducks in a row.

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Scott said he has no issue with the police presence — he said he welcomes it — but he would like the city to give him a bit of a break on the cost for the event, which only just about breaks even without the police fees. He said the event benefits the city as a whole and also gives police at the event a chance to connect with a public that doesn't always have the most trusting relationship with officers.

"Don't deny me," he said. "Find a way to make it work."

York City Mayor Kim Bracey did not respond to requests for comment.

Other events: Gross said it's common for events to have a police presence; foodstruck, the food-truck event that's taken place at Penn Park each of the past two Labor Days, had significant ones, also.

Meagan Feeser, one of the organizers for foodstruck, which has re-formed under different leadership for its future events, couldn't recall the exact amount for the event but said it was a significant amount of money, likely more than $1,000 for the seven-hour event, half the time of Scott's event.

This isn't the first time these problems have surfaced for the event. In 2013, the city told Scott he was going to owe them about $13,000 for that year's and the previous year's tournaments. He ended up being able to raise enough money for the tournament to run.

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The tournament honors the memory of homicide victims Ca-trell "Trey" McCanic and Ricardo "Boo" Banks, two standout basketball players at William Penn Senior High School in the mid-'90s and mid-2000s, respectively.

"Boo was actually my little cousin," Scott said. "Trey is someone older than me who I watched play."

— Reach Sean Cotter or on Twitter at@SPCotterYD.