Quick resolution possible for West York's police chief

Liz Evans Scolforo
  • West York Police Chief Justin Seibel was placed on paid administrative leave Saturday, officials said.
  • Part-time borough Officer Matthew Millsaps has been named interim acting chief.
  • Seibel wasn't placed on leave for doing anything illegal or inappropriate, attorney Ed Paskey said.

West York's borough council president and the attorney representing West York's police chief both said they hope to resolve the chief's administrative-leave issue soon.

Justin Seibel was placed on paid administrative leave Saturday, according to his attorney, Ed Paskey.

"My hope is we can reach a resolution to the situation in short order, so people can get back to their business," Paskey said. "I can tell you that the chief has not been given any notice that he is being subject to discipline. He is not on administrative leave because he has done anything inappropriate or illegal."

Council President Shawn Mauck said the process is ongoing, but that he is legally constrained from speaking about personnel issues. That means he can't discuss why the chief was put on leave, he said.

West York Police Chief Justin Seibel has been placed on administrative leave, a borough official confirmed on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016.. 
(John A. Pavoncello photo)

"We want to do the right thing," he said.

Paskey said he and borough officials have been speaking about the situation since Tuesday.

"We have a good dialogue going on right now," the attorney said.

No specifics: Paskey said he has seen no specific allegations against Seibel, who did not return a phone message seeking comment Wednesday.

However, the attorney noted it's not impossible the issue could drag on for some time.

"I've had officers on administrative leave for close to a year in certain situations," Paskey said. "But I'm optimistic we'll get a resolution."

He said Seibel is "looking forward to being part of law enforcement within the borough" once the issue is resolved.

Paskey confirmed Seibel, despite being chief, is represented by the same union that represents the other West York officers — Teamsters Local 776.

"(He) is also part of the union, so he would be entitled to union representation," the attorney said. "But at this point I'm representing him, and that's not because the union has declined."

Local 776's business agent, William Olmeda, has not returned phone messages seeking comment. A press liaison at the Teamsters' national office in Washington, D.C., said Local 776 officials are the only ones who can comment because the union's locals are autonomous.

Acting chief: The council on Saturday appointed part-time borough officer Matthew Millsaps as acting chief for an indefinite period. He also declined to discuss Seibel's situation.

Matthew Millsaps was named acting chief of West York Police Dept. on Sept. 3, 2016.

Millsaps, 41, of Conewago Township, has been a part-time West York police officer since 2006, he said, which also was the same year he took a full-time position with the U.S. Department of Defense.

Before that, Millsaps was a York County detective from 2002 to 2006, and he worked as an officer for Newberry Township Police from 2000 to 2002, he said.

He is still technically only part time and has declined a benefits package, he said. The acting chief said he's working between 30 and 40 hours per week.

New hires: The borough currently has seven full-time officers, and the borough council has approve the hiring of four more full-time officers and four part-time officers, he confirmed.

"But that doesn't mean we're hiring them in one shot," Millsaps said. "The short-term goal is to get two full-time officers hired quickly. At that point, we'd begin evaluating a time frame for the additional hires."

Mauck said he wants borough residents to know that West York officers are doing their jobs, keeping the borough safe.

Borough manager Melissa Wirls did not return phone messages seeking comment over two days.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.