Amid turmoil, Southwestern Regional Police chief says he's resigning
Southwestern Regional Police Chief Greg Bean said Thursday he's resigning, and hopes to be part of the "solution," following potential staffing decreases because of North Codorus Township's intent to leave the department by the end of 2019.
“When some of the concerns came up in our board meetings, and the thought was that we needed to decrease costs, which meant decrease personnel, that certainly had an effect on what I thought was good and proper, and so I was hoping by if I left — I would be part of the solution," he said.
The chief said he felt it was appropriate to put himself in the equation as well.
On Thursday, April 18, Bean announced he is resigning as chief effective June 5, to take a management position with the PA Chiefs of Police Association in Harrisburg.
Bean's been chief since the department's founding in 2002. He said he started looking at other employment opportunities in September.
The chief's resignation comes amid turmoil caused when North Codorus Township officials voted to leave the regional department by the end of the year.
The department serves Manheim Township, Heidelberg Township and Spring Grove as well.
North Codorus Township officials have cited rising costs, among other things, as the reason behind the departure. The township pays about $1 million per year for police services, or roughly half the yearly police budget.
In March, North Codorus Township turned down a proposed budget that would have it paying 25% less in yearly policing costs. That budget would have cut the department from 14 officers to 11.
Two officers have left in recent months, which Bean attributed to the instability of the department. He said that trend may continue.
Matt Bollinger, the Southwestern police board chairman and a Heidelberg Township supervisor, said with the chief leaving, the board might not have to cut any officers, if things can get worked out with North Codorus Township.
“That’s just the character of Chief Bean," Bollinger said.
Not a surprise: Rodney Shearer, a North Codorus Township supervisor who serves on Southwestern's police board, said he wasn't surprised when he heard Bean was resigning.
Shearer said the chief's house was for sale, and Shearer thought Bean wanted to "move up."
Bean's contract ends in 2019, Bollinger said.
“I don’t know how much longer he wanted to work either," Bollinger said.
He added that he doesn't blame Bean for doing what he thinks is best for him.
“I will say, I believe the chief has been a very valuable asset and has done a tremendous job," he said.
Spring Grove Mayor Beverly Hilt, who also serves on the police board, said the borough will still support the department, even if North Codorus Township leaves.
"We're still going to continue to stand behind the department and make things work," she said.
Shearer said he thinks the chief's resignation is going to complicate the existing issues, because Bean was supposed to be involved in working things out with North Codorus Township.
But there isn't time for more hangups, Shearer said, because North Codorus Township can't wait until Dec. 31.
Next chief: Bollinger said he doesn't expect finding a chief to be a problem because Bean's been preparing someone to take over when he leaves.
“We definitely have somebody from within the organization that has been recommended to at least be an interim chief,” he said.
That information was echoed by Hilt, who said that will happen if the board agrees to it.
Bollinger declined to name Bean's apparent successor until the police board discusses it. Bean also declined to provide a name.
“The chief wanted to make sure that somebody was being groomed from within for leadership responsibilities," he said.
Shearer said he wished there had been a little bit more of a heads-up on the chief's departure so the board could have potentially offered the job to Detective Sgt. Lisa Layden.
Layden recently left to take a job as chief of West Hempfield Township Police Department, in Lancaster County.
“It's a shame we had to lose her,” Shearer said.
On Tuesday, April 16, during a North Codorus Township supervisors meeting, township officials announced bids for service from Northern York County Regional Police and West Manchester Township Police.
But Bean said he is confident that police board members will find a solution.
“I know that the meetings that do occur help educate both sides on what we need to do to fix our problems, and for that reason I’m hopeful that some solutions can be found,” the chief said.
The chief said even though he is leaving, his commitment to the department won't change.
"Everybody will have my phone number," he said.
Southwestern's police board meets at 7 p.m. May 8 at the police station at 6115 Thoman Drive.
However, Shearer said he is hoping they meet again before that, to keep things moving along.
— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at email@example.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.