OP-ED: 'Very big mistake' in North Codorus Twp.

Willa Lefever
North Codorus Township
Sonnewald Foods Natural Foods owner Willa Lefever comments during a break-out session at a York Stands Up meeting at Goodwill Fire Hall in Jacobus Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019. Former U.S. House District candidate Jess King, who lost in November's election to Lloyd Smucker, spoke at the meeting. Bill Kalina photo

Well, it’s official. After months and months of attending township meetings, sharing our perspective during public comment periods and even holding demonstrations before the meetings, on Jan. 1 the residents of North Codorus Township will lose the police department that we have grown to love over 17 years of being a member of Southwestern Regional.

This is the three-minute statement the supervisors allowed me to read two minutes of before they voted;

I will begin by reminding you that you were elected to serve the people. That means listen to them and take their input to heart as you seek to make good decisions that are in the best interest of the community you serve. That also means asking and answering a lot of important questions, such as, "Will this decision serve the young and the old?" "Will this decision serve the new residents as well as the lifelong residents?" "Will this decision address the immediate needs as well as the long-term needs of the township?"

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Next, I wish to remind you that the survey done by York College for the Southwestern Regional Police Department provided answers to many of the questions residents have raised. It was very timely in light of the fact that you refused to do a simple survey even though it had been requested by numerous residents month after month.

The fact that 37% of the computer-chosen recipients responded indicates that they had a strong opinion about the topic of the survey. While 87% of all the responders were satisfied or highly satisfied with the police service they receive, 97.8% of the North Codorus respondents — did you hear that? 97.8% — were either satisfied or highly satisfied with Southwestern Regional. 

Why wasn’t this research done before the idea of making a change in police service was pursued? Political servants want the input of the people first. Instead you quietly took steps to withdraw and rely on the state police. It’s only because of the outcry of the people that you back-peddled and said you will look into joining or contracting services from West Manchester and Northern. All that research should have been done before you made your decision.

Because the people weren’t consulted and because all the options were not thoroughly researched before a decision was made, no one really knows what this is going to cost short-term or long-term. There have been all sorts of numbers flying around for months, and the attorney for North Codorus and the attorney for Southwestern have extremely differing opinions. You have been saying that you are withdrawing because the cost to the residents is too high, but no one yet knows what the withdrawal is actually going to cost.

At last month’s meeting Northern Regional Chief Mark Bentzel mentioned that merging some of the existing departments would be good for everyone. Southern Regional recently contacted Southwestern expressing interest in a possible merger. Representatives of the police board have met with both organizations and are encouraged by the possibilities.

With virtually no support of the people and with promising options on the horizon, this is no time to make a decision to change police services.

Please set your personal vendettas and egos aside, listen to the people and ask Southwestern for an extension so these other promising options can be investigated. If 97.8% of the people are opposed to the action you propose to take, it should be clear that you are making a very big mistake.