York City officials approve several police measures — but not the drone

Matt Enright
York Dispatch

After some heated debate Tuesday night, York City Council approved several police department measures — but notably not a drone and gunshot detection system.

Meanwhile, it ended up not advancing $1.5 million set aside for renovation projects — at least for now — or tighter restrictions on how much time the city's legal team has to provide input on council proposals.

An amended motion approved $2,462,641.83 in American Rescue Plan Act funding to initiatives that have been supported by Police Commissioner Michael Muldrow.

The motion removed $240,000 from the initial funding that would have gone toward a Shot Spotter program in the city and a drone. Council member Betsy Buckingham said after the meeting she would have supported leaving that funding in. Council member Lou Rivera was not in attendance.

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The funding was removed after a lengthy public comment period. Many who had attended the meeting raised privacy and civil liberty concerns, particularly regarding the presence of a drone capturing video from residential neighborhoods.

After the meeting, Council President Sandie Walker said she appreciated the dialogue from the public.

"If there are issues that are being addressed that we haven't discussed, then I'm happy that the community decides to participate," Walker said. "It's just one piece out of everything that we are going to look at, and so we appreciate the dialogue from the community." 

The approved funding includes money for a second Gun Violence Intervention street team, "credible messengers" to help reduce gun violence and a police cadet program.

In other business, the City Council approved changes to rules and procedures of the council, including setting a deadline of 10 a.m. Friday for the city solicitor to review and recommend amended language to any submitted agenda items. 

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While initially the changes would have included a provision that if recommendations from the city's legal team hadn't been received by the deadline then the item would have been considered reviewed and approved by the city's legal team automatically, that provision was removed after discussion between city solicitor Jason Sabol, city clerk Dianna Thompson and the City Council. 

The council voted down a motion that would have approved $750,000 each to renovation projects at Penn Street Market and Rex/Laurel Fire Station. A similar motion was introduced at the meeting and will sit until the March 15 meeting to appease concerns by Mayor Michael Helfrich and the business administration that proper procedure was not followed.

— Reach Matt Enright via email at menright@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @Matthew_Enright.