Three municipalities 'OK' merger talks with York Area Regional Police
The York Area Regional Police Department moved closer to a major expansion this week after the three municipalities served by the Northeastern Regional Police voted to move forward with negotiations to merge the two departments.
Municipal boards in East Manchester Township as well as Mount Wolf and Manchester boroughs each voted in favor of pursuing a merger with York Area Regional.
York Area Regional is competing with Northern York County Regional Police over which department might service communities in what is now Northeastern Regional's territory.
At the township's board of supervisors meeting Tuesday, Board Chair Steven H. Gross Jr. said he and Vice Chair Dave Naylor had both received several calls from residents who said they preferred to merge with York Area Regional, which has guaranteed a job for every Northeastern employee.
"From a logistics standpoint, I think Northern (Regional) makes sense, but if this is what the residents want to do, then I'll support it," Gross said.
The East Manchester Township board voted 2-1 in favor of pursuing negotiations with York Area Regional.
Supervisor Barry Rudisill voted against it, saying he thought the township should take over the Northeastern Regional department and then sell police services to the two boroughs.
Officials from Manchester and Mount Wolf boroughs said their councils voted unanimously on Monday and Tuesday, respectively, in favor of York Area Regional.
Mount Wolf Mayor Maureen "Mo" Starner said the votes to approve negotiations with another department are a step forward for the Northeastern Regional Police Board, which has been at a budgetary stalemate for the past year.
The township has said it will not pay more than 70% of the police budget, based on the funding formula calculation, and that the boroughs have been underpaying their share.
The police board has gone back and forth for months over whether to create a new funding formula, merge with another department or have the township take over the department.
"I definitely feel like we’re in a better place right now than we have been in a long time," Starner said Wednesday.
At the East Manchester Township meeting, Northeastern Regional Police Chief Bryan Rizzo said one advantage of merging with York Area Regional would be that the Northeastern Regional officers would retain their jobs and provide the same coverage to the same communities, but with the added benefit of back-up from the York Area Regional officers when necessary.
"We have established a relationship with the community, with the officers we have now," Rizzo said. "We'd like to keep that."
If the merger is successful, York Area Regional has said it would change its name and issue new patches to all officers, fully integrating them into a new department.
Under Northern Regional's original proposal, Northeastern would have been absorbed and some of Northeastern's officers might have lost their jobs. But more recently, Northern Regional's pitch evolved into a merger, which would also protect Northeastern Regional employees' jobs.
The next Northeastern Regional Police Board meeting is at 6 p.m. Monday at Union Fire Company No. 1, 201 York St. in Manchester.