Northeastern Regional police board clashes after merger talks go public
The Northeastern Regional Police Department could be headed toward a bidding war if the police board entertains a proposal from Northern York County Regional Police for services.
Diane Wales, a representative for Northern Regional, addressed the Northeastern Regional Police Board Monday and requested that if the board considers a merger proposal from York Area Regional Police, they should also consider Northern Regional as an option.
"We are here respectfully requesting that if this board is seriously considering a consolidation or a merger, that you look to us also," Wales said. "We would like a fair shot to be able to submit a proposal to you."
The York Dispatch reported last week that the York Area Regional Police Department had approached Northeastern Regional with a proposal to merge the departments, which prompted Wales' visit.
Northeastern Regional serves East Manchester Township and Manchester and Mount Wolf boroughs, which have been in a funding dispute for nearly a year.
East Manchester Township claims the township is being charged too much for police services, and the township's representatives have said they refuse to pay more than 70% of the overall charges, regardless of whether the department's funding formula calculates more than 70% for the township.
Northern Regional is aware of the fact that police services make up the majority of municipal budgets right now, Wales said.
"It's like that completely across the board," she said. "And we, more than anybody, we are fair. We want to know what we can do to help you guys reduce your budgets."
None of the board members commented on Wales' request, but board Chair Dave Naylor said he was upset that the proposal from York Area Regional had been publicized before the police board could discuss it.
Naylor and Vice Chair Maureen "Mo" Starner, mayor of Mount Wolf, recently met with York Area Regional Police Chief Tim Damon and Northeastern Regional Police Chief Bryan Rizzo to discuss the potential impact of a merger on Northeastern Regional's officers and administrative staff, Naylor said.
Naylor told the rest of the board Monday that he asked Rizzo's office to send them all a packet with information from the meeting so they could review it, but that he didn't intend for them to share it with their respective borough councils.
"I distributed that material without any confidentiality claim on it. I didn't think I had to," Naylor said. "At the bottom of each page of the report was in bold letters, 'confidential.'"
It was "irresponsible and very unfortunate" that the Mount Wolf and Manchester borough councils discussed the proposal before the police board had a discussion, Naylor said.
Mount Wolf Borough Councilman Josh Parish countered that he was told by Starner that the merger proposal was open for discussion among the borough councils.
Starner said she misunderstood the police chief's email about the information shared in the initial meeting and thought the borough councils were supposed to discuss whether they were open to a merger.
"That's where the mistake is from Mount Wolf, and I will take that hit," Starner said. "I apologize."
Parish also said he was "blindsided" when he learned Naylor and Starner had met with the two chiefs without first informing the rest of the police board.
Neither of the two representatives from Manchester borough — Borough Council President Adam Bowman and Mayor Patricia Witt — commented about the meeting between Naylor, Starner and the two chiefs.
Starner asked if Chief Damon was considering rescinding York Area Regional's merger proposal because of the way everything had played out.
"I have no idea," Naylor said.