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Glen Rock votes to extend time with Southern Regional Police
Glen Rock will be staying with the Southern Regional Police Department, at least until the end of next year.
The borough council voted Wednesday to accept a continuance suggested by New Freedom that would delay its withdrawal from the department by a year.
The voted barely passed, with four council members voting for it and three against it.
New Freedom's council set tentative deadlines at the beginning of April for Southern Regional's other member municipalities to accept the continuance. The council members asked their counterparts to accept the conditions by April 30 and to amend their ordinances to reflect changes in the intergovernmental police agreement by May 31.
New Freedom, Shrewsbury and now Glen Rock have agreed to the continuance. Stewartstown is the only municipality left to vote on it.
The background: Southern Regional covers several boroughs in the southern part of the county: New Freedom, Shrewsbury, Glen Rock and Stewartstown are the four full-member municipalities, and the department also contracts part-time services to Winterstown and Railroad.
Member municipalities have said their problem is not with department's operation but with the funding, which has caused New Freedom and Glen Rock to submit letters of withdrawal.
Currently, funding is done by a formula that factors in municipalities' populations, the amount of time police have to spend there and how many miles of road the municipalities have. That formula has been in place since 2001, police Chief James Boddington has said.
In late February, Ron Smeal, a former York County police chief hired as a consultant, proposed a new formula that would allow the municipalities to purchase service hours, known as "Police Protection Units," or PPUs, based on the police chief's recommendation.
Boddington said the municipalities could purchases those hours, and he would allocate them appropriately. If a municipality needed more hours, he would recommend that municipality purchase more hours. If there were leftover hours, those would carry over to the next year.
If the department finds itself in one municipality more than usual one week, they can adjust, Smeal told the commission at the time.
Boddington said the continuance agreed to by Glen Rock this week would allow him and Smeal to make that change and others needed to improve the department.
Contention: The Glen Rock Borough Council discussed the police department at length during Wednesday's meeting.
Vice President Rollin Apgar and Councilman Joshua Corney both agreed that extending the withdrawal deadline, or effectively accepting New Freedom's continuance letter, would be a show of good faith and allow the department to make changes.
Other members disagreed.
Councilwoman Victoria Ribeiro took issue with the police commission, which is made up of two representatives from all four member municipalities.
"The commission isn't capable of taking those recommendations," she said.
Council President Doug Young called the commission a "completely dysfunctional group."
Ribeiro said New Freedom's continuation letter does not take into account all the recommendations from Smeal, but if it did, she would have been all for it.
Boddington addressed the board, saying he understands their concerns. In agreeing to the letter, it will allow the department to look into changes, including the things the board talked about.
"Your issues are my concerns too," he said.
The chief told them he believes they will see "great results."
Ribeiro and Young were two of the three who voted against accepting the letter.
Another option: Also discussed during the meeting was the possibility of joining Southwestern Regional Police.
Apgar said during the meeting that they would be accepted into the department as a "package deal" with New Freedom. He said if they were to agree to it, it could take six months to a year to get things started.
After the meeting, Boddington said it was good that they signed the letter, and added that it will now allow him and Smeal to start looking into changes.
"It's just given us one year to fix this," he said.
The police commission is scheduled to meet again May 3.
— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.