North Codorus could shave $100K for police with different agency
Residents gather outside the North Codorus Township building to support Southwestern Regional Police. Christopher Dornblaser, 717-505-5436/@YDDornblaser
North Codorus Township could save more than $100,000 in annual police costs should it switch to a different police department.
The township received two bids for service — one from West Manchester Township Police at $825,000 per year with a $200,000 buy-in and the other from Northern York County Regional Police at about $744,000 per year — solicitor Andrew Miller announced Tuesday, April 16, at a packed meeting of the North Codorus Township Board of Supervisors.
The bids come roughly six months after township officials announced their intention to leave the Southwestern Regional Police Department by the end of 2019.
Still, the township could remain with Southwestern Regional Police.
"The door isn't closed until Dec. 31, 2019," township Supervisor Rodney Shearer told a standing-room only crowd during the Tuesday meeting.
Township officials have cited rising police costs, among other things, as the reason behind the departure. The township pays about $1 million for police services — roughly half the yearly police budget.
Southwestern Regional Police cover Heidelberg Township, Manheim Township and Spring Grove as well.
Miller said West Manchester Township Police sent the township a 10-year contract but did not provide a weekly hourly police service estimate.
Northern York County Regional Police submitted a 3-year contract proposal for 170 hours of weekly police service in the township.
Southwestern Regional Police provides about 250 hours of service to the township weekly. Shearer has said the township does not need that much service.
Miller said the board will review the bids and discuss them at a future meeting.
Last month the township turned down a proposed Southwestern Regional budget that would have cut costs by 25%. The township would pay about $866,000 per year under that budget, and it would get about 190 weekly hours of service.
During the meeting Tuesday, Shearer said that budget would only be possible if the officers' insurance was changed and if there was a change in their contracts, which still needs to be negotiated.
“This whole thing is still a work in progress," he said.
If that doesn't work out, Shearer said the proposed budget for 2020 would have the township paying about $1.15 million for police services through Southwestern.
Southwestern Regional Chief Greg Bean told supervisors that officers spend 150 of the 250 total weekly hours responding to calls, and Northern Regional would be offering 170 hours total.
“They're basically driving into your township and driving back out," Bean said, adding that there isn't time for anything else.
He also mentioned that North Codorus Township has 0.8 officers per thousand residents. With Northern Regional, the township would have half of that, Bean said.
The township's decision to leave the department has consistently been questioned by residents attending the past few meetings.
On Tuesday, about about 50 people showed up before the meeting to show their support for Southwestern Regional Police.
Emily LeVault, a township resident who helped organize the gathering, said she started looking into the issue about two months ago. On Wednesday, she was looking for some additional answers from the supervisors.
"All they've given us is a lack of information and evasiveness," she said.
Edward Morin, a former fire chief for Porters Fire Co. in Spring Grove, stood outside a home in front of the township building holding a sign in support of the department.
He said that often when firefighters or EMS show up to the scene of overdoses, police have to clear it before they can enter.
Those minutes of waiting could mean life or death for the person who overdosed, according to Morin. The response times could be longer if police have to travel from a farther distance, he said.
"You're going to have to wait that much longer," he said.
Some residents said during the public comment that it seemed like the issue the supervisors had with the department was personal.
Denny Ilyes, a Republican running against Shearer in the May primary, said during the meeting he didn't think the issue was just about money.
“Just because someone tries to hold people accountable, that doesn’t make it personal," Shearer said in response.
At the last Southwestern Regional Police board meeting, Shearer had planned on sharing some more reasons why the township wants to leave the department, but he said he would share them Tuesday.
However, Shearer said he now plans to share that information during the next police board meeting, at the request of the police board members.
Also during the last police board meeting, members voted to have each of their respective local boards look at a proposed separation agreement, which would have North Codorus Township paying $1 million to leave.
Shearer said the township solicitor still needs to review the draft agreement. He has said that the township will be reimbursed for its capital contributions and the money it put into the police station, which should offset the fee.
The township supervisors voted Tuesday to have the building appraised.
Southwestern's police board meets at 7 p.m. May 8 at the police station at 6115 Thoman Drive.
— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.