York City policing issues to be reconsidered later this month

Noel Miller
York Dispatch

A vote on whether to lift a decades-old police staffing cap has been delayed until the next City Council voting session later this month.

Discussion over lifting the cap — which limits the city's police officer staffing to 100 unless outside funding is secured — began in the fall of 2022 amid increasing gun violence. The matter was expected to be considered again at Tuesday night's City Council meeting but was deferred over a procedural issue.

City Clerk Dianna Thompson noted Tuesday that the original resolution was introduced many months earlier, exceeding the 60-day limit for consideration stipulated in city code. That meant that the proposal would need to be reintroduced before consideration.

York City Police Commissioner Michael Muldrow, in center, talking to the newest officers at the York City Police Department swearing in ceremony, alongside Mayor Michael Helfrich, on left, in York on Friday, Jan.6, 2023.

Thompson said she'd realized the issue shortly before Tuesday's meeting began, prompting the City Council to introduce an updated resolution and place it on the March 21 meeting's agenda.

Officials are also expected to consider a plan for a citywide surveillance camera system at that meeting.

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Last fall, the York City Council considered amending the city code to lift the cap amid a wave of violent crime. Those discussions stalled, however, over objections raised by the Fraternal Order of the Police White Rose Lodge 15, the local police union, concerning a proposal to appoint a detective commander. That issue has since been resolved, setting the stage for the city to revisit the issue.

The department currently employs 111 police officers for a city of nearly 45,000 residents. That includes 11 officers paid for via grants, including federal COVID-19 assistance. In order to keep the new hires on staff when the grants are up, Police Commissioner Michael Muldrow said the department would need to continue to use outside funding or get the police cap removed.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the national average for departments is to have 3.4 officers per 1,000 residents. York City currently has 2.5 officers per 1,000 — a number that would increase to 2.7 if Muldrow's initial staffing proposal of roughly 123 officers becomes a reality.

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Council meetings are streamed on White Rose Community Television at www.wrct.tv/ and on YouTube at www.youtube.com/user/WhiteRoseCommunityTV. The next City Council voting meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 21, in City Hall.

— Reach Noel Miller at NMiller3@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @TheNoelM.