Winterstown mulling its options on police coverage
Winterstown could potentially see a different police force patrolling the borough.
Borough council President Herbert Grove told The York Dispatch that the council is considering dropping Southern Regional Police in favor of service from North Hopewell Township Police.
Winterstown is a contracted community for Southern Regional, meaning it pays for the hours it requests but does not have a seat on the police commission, which is the governing body of the department.
Grove said the borough has never had full-time coverage. It receives about 40 hours a month from Southern Regional, which is what the borough would receive from North Hopewell Township, he said.
“The important thing to take away from this (is) coverage will not change," he said.
He added that the borough hasn't looked into state police coverage much. Gov. Tom Wolf has proposed a fee for municipalities that use state police. Right now it doesn't cost municipalities anything to use state police.
Grove said the borough's contract with the department expired in March, and it has been going month-to-month with Southern Regional since then.
The borough council voted at its June 11 meeting to have North Hopewell Township Police prepare an agreement for service for the July meeting, according to Grove.
North Hopewell Township Police Chief Timothy Quinan said the preliminary numbers for the agreement to serve the borough are 40 hours a month at about $60 an hour.
“We of course surround Winterstown borough, so we go through Winterstown more often than not," he said.
Grove said Winterstown has about 550 residents.
North Hopewell Township Police covers the township as well as Cross Roads borough. Quinan said the department has three officers, one full-time and two part-time.
Quinan said if Winterstown goes with the department, North Hopewell Township Police would not be able to respond to calls 24-7 in the borough.
“We’re going to be supplemented by state police," he said, adding that state police would fill in when North Hopewell officers aren't around.
According to Southern Regional Police commission minutes from March, the board voted to increase the hourly rate for contracted municipalities from $88 an hour to $92.40 an hour — a 5% increase.
Southern Regional Chief James Boddington said the price is higher for his department because the 14-officer department can respond to calls in the borough 24-7.
He said there's a minimum of two officers out per shift.
Southern Regional covers Glen Rock, Stewartstown, New Freedom and Shrewsbury borough, and it has contracted coverage for Railroad.
Should Winterstown leave Southern Regional Police, the borough would have to give a 30-day notice of withdrawal to the department, according to Grove.
He said Stewartstown Police provided service to the borough for a number of years. That department dissolved a few years ago, and Southern Regional, which began covering Stewartstown, also covered Winterstown. Most of Stewartstown's officers joined Southern Regional at that time.
Grove said if the council votes to take North Hopewell Township Police service, the coverage might start later this year or at the beginning of next year, once the 2020 budget is figured out.
North Hopewell-Winterstown Elementary is in Winterstown, but York Area Regional Police covers Red Lion Area School District, which the elementary school is part of.
However, it is in Southern Regional's jurisdiction and that department would be the first one to respond.
The next borough council meeting will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 9, at the North Hopewell-Winterstown Volunteer Fire Co. building, 12244 Winterstown Road.
— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.