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Future of Police Coverage in East Greenville Remains Uncertain
Written by Bradley Schlegel Staff Reporter

                While uncertainty appears to surround the future of the police force in East Greenville Borough, municipal officials said they plan to roll out a proposal for police coverage at the October council workshop meeting.

                East Greenville Borough Council voted Sept. 6 to terminate its agreement with the Upper Perk Regional Police Commission at 12:01 a.m. on March 6, 2017.

                On a Sept. 7 post to the borough's Facebook page, officials assured residents that they would not be left without police coverage and said that the borough has plans for a small police force that would include coverage by Pennsylvania State Police.

                East Greenville officials who the Town & Country newspaper attempted to contact – including Council Chair Jim Young; Vice Chair Tracey Hunsinger; council members Marita Thomson; council member Joseph Arahill; council member Robert McCluskie, chair of the police commission; and Mayor Ryan Sloyer – refused to answer questions about the details of that plan. Nor did they comment on issues related to the timing and method of the vote to leave the police commission, the financial consequences of their decision or the potential existence of any research that would support their conclusion.

                More than half of the respondents to the borough's recent survey identified the police as the top priority for spending tax revenue. Of the 177 property owners who answered the question about options for spending limited tax dollars, 92 identified law enforcement, according to information posted on the borough's Facebook page Sept. 8 by East Greenville Manager James Fry.

                By a margin of more than 43 percent, borough residents who filled out the survey, believe East Greenville officials should not consider and investigate the possibility of being covered by the Pennsylvania State Police.

                However, of the 194 people who answered this portion of the survey, 94 expressed support for borough officials to investigate the creation of their own department for affordability.  Eight people opposed the idea, according to the survey, and 20 were undecided.

                Out of 90 responses to a question seeking ideas to make the borough a safer, more enjoyable place, the option of increasing the police presence received 16 votes, second most overall. A suggestion to maintain a police presence finished third with 14 responses.

                According to Cpl. Adam Reed, coordinator of the state police's public information office in Harrisburg, state police can provide full-time coverage or, in some cases, part-time coverage if the municipality has its own police department but lacks the manpower for round-the-clock coverage.

                "When [local police] are not on duty, we then provide primary coverage during those days or hours," Reed wrote in an email.

                Once a local department disbands, the municipality is simply added to the patrol coverage area for the corresponding PSP station, Reed said. In this case, that would be Skippack.

                Communities that utilize the state police do not pay a direct fee to the agency, Reed noted. According to state Sen. Bob Mensch (R-24), all of Pennsylvania's residents pay for the state police with their taxes.

                "The more municipalities lean on state police, the worse it is for everyone from a tax perspective," he said.

                In addition, Mensch said the response times by state troopers would be slower than that of local officers.

                "The service would be quality," he said. "But I don't know about the response time. The state police probably won't be able to respond to a situation in 10 minutes."

                According to Reed, state police officials have no way to foresee or calculate potential response times.

                "In many cases, the patrol unit assigned to cover that municipality may already be patrolling in it when a call comes in, therefore making a response time much smaller," he wrote in an email. "In other cases, the responding trooper may be coming from the station or a neighboring area depending on time of day and other incidents that may be going on. There are many variables that would come into play."

                East Greenville Borough Council will meet Sept. 27 for its September workshop meeting at 7:30 p.m. at Borough Hall, 206 Main St. The next regularly scheduled council meeting is Oct. 3 at 7:30 p.m.; the October workshop meeting will be held Oct. 25 at 7:30 p.m.





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