DOJ report on Springetts PD to be released
In early 2016, Springettsbury Township Police Chief Dan Stump decided he owed it to residents to improve the police department in any way he could, primarily by having experts identify the department's blind spots.
In May, Stump told The York Dispatch that Springettsbury Township Police had partnered with the federal Office of Justice Programs Diagnostic Center, part of the U.S. Department of Justice, in a two-year program to identify those blind spots. He has not only welcomed scrutiny, he invited it inside.
"We want to make sure we're the best we can possibly be," he said this week.
The center has now provided Stump with its 47-page final report and recommendations, which the chief said will be shared at a town-hall meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 21, in Springettsbury Township's administrative building, 1501 Mount Zion Road.
"I'm still digesting it," Stump said of the report. He said he's excited about sharing the results with residents.
"I'm so glad we did this," he said.
The meeting: Experts from the Office of Justice Programs Diagnostic Center will present their findings at the town-hall meeting, the chief said.
"Once the report is presented, there will be an open question-answer period," Stump said.
The chief said he was impressed with the caliber of experts brought in by the DOJ and the amount of hours those experts devoted to studying Springettsbury Township Police.
"Now comes the implementation phase, where we correct the issues (identified by DOJ)," he said.
The full report also will be made available at the department's website, www.springettsburypd.com, according to Stump.
The Diagnostic Center program is free, he has said.
The background: The Office of Justice Programs launched the Diagnostic Center in spring 2012 to provide technical assistance to state, local and tribal policymakers seeking to implement data-driven strategies to combat crime and improve public safety in their communities, according to its website. The defining characteristic of the center is its approach to being smart on crime by helping state and local leaders to use local data to apply what works in criminal justice in their communities, the website states.
Federal experts focused on three areas during their review of Springettsbury Township Police:
- Procedural justice issues: focusing on policies and procedures, training, use of force, citizen complaints, internal investigations and national best practices
- Police/community relations: including crime issues, fear of crime and building relationships of trust
- Body camera policy development: including helping craft a policy that complies with state wiretapping laws, guidelines for storing and purging videos and handling right-to-know requests. Stump said township supervisors have approved funding for police to get body cameras this year.
Stump said all his 32 officers support the partnership and also support wearing body cameras.
Past allegations: The U.S. Department of Justice previously investigated Springettsbury Township Police after local civil-rights attorney Devon Jacob sent a letter to the FBI alleging the department had "gone rogue" and that the "general public was in grave danger."
Stump said the federal investigation ended in November 2015, when the department was cleared of wrongdoing.
Jacob has filed a lawsuit against the department on behalf of the family of Todd William Shultz, 40, of North York, who was killed when he was shot 17 times by two Springettsbury officers shortly before 7 p.m. Dec. 29, 2012, outside the Kmart on Haines Road. He was wielding a table knife and scissors at the time, despite repeated orders and pleas from police that he drop the weapons.
Jacob also represented Steven E. Landis and Debra L. Williams, who claimed Springettsbury officers used excessive force when arresting them during separate incidents. Both filed lawsuits as well, and Springettsbury Township settled with them for $250,000 each.
York County District Attorney Tom Kearney asked state police to do independent investigations in the Shultz, Landis and Williams cases, after which Kearney cleared officers of criminal wrongdoing in all three incidents.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.