Spring Grove council surveys residents before hiring police agency

Southwestern Regional Police Department in Heidelberg Township, Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Spring Grove officials say they hope to hear from residents before signing with a new police agency following Southwestern's likely dissolution by year's end.

Borough council members are deciding between Northern York County Regional Police, York Area Regional Police or state police.

A survey has been posted on the borough's website. Residents were asked to complete it by Friday, Nov. 8, local officials said.

Council president James Graham told residents during the council meeting Monday, Nov. 5, that the council could vote on the next policing option at the committee meeting Nov. 14 or the following meeting on Dec. 3.

This comes months after North Codorus Township, Southwestern's biggest financial contributor, voted to contract coverage from Northern Regional Police in 2020.

Spring Grove borough council presents police information during a meeting Monday, Nov. 4. Christopher Dornblaser photo.

Manheim Township has already decided to contract with Northern Regional next year. Spring Grove and Heidelberg Township officials have yet to decide. Heidelberg Township supervisors meet Wednesday, Nov. 6, and could vote on which department that community will contract with going forward.

Under York Area Regional department's estimates, Spring Grove would pay $356,554 for 80 hours per week for the first year.

Northern Regional estimated the department could provide 90 hours of service per week to Spring Grove for $394,000 during the first year.

Contracts for both departments would be for five years.

State police would not cost the borough anything, but it would not offer the same coverage as the regional options.

Graham said the borough budgeted $400,000 for police services in 2020 and that about $25,000 of that could go to the dissolution of Southwestern.

“That’s the best we can do at this point," he said. "Hopefully it’s enough to cover for it.”

That means there would likely be a tax increase should Spring Grove go with Northern Regional Police, he said.

Taxes would not have to be increased should Spring Grove go with York Area Regional, he said.

The cost to dissolve the department has not yet been determined. Southwestern's police board has not officially voted to disband the department, but it has taken steps to begin the process.

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York Area Regional Chief Tim Damon said the department would prefer to provide service to both Heidelberg Township and Spring Grove. The chief said department officials would have to evaluate whether they could cover only one of them.

York Area Regional provides service to about 52,000 people and covers a roughly 58-square-mile area across York Township, Windsor Township, Dallastown, Jacobus, Yoe and Felton. 

Northern Regional serves roughly 70,000 residents and covers 150 square miles in Dover borough, Dover Township, Manchester Township, Paradise Township, Conewago Township, North York, Franklin Township and Jackson Township.

Both department heads have said they could hire existing Southwestern officers. Northern Regional Deputy Chief David Lash said as of Monday, Nov. 4, no Southwestern officers have applied for positions at the department.

Southwestern's officers have voiced support for joining York Area Regional Police. 

Spring Grove's borough council meets again  Nov. 18. 

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at cdornblaser@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.