SOUTHWESTERN REGIONAL POLICE BOARD
March 13, 2019 – 7:00 PM
Meeting called to order by Chairman M. Bollinger at 7:00 pm. The following were in attendance:
- Shearer, R. Lint – North Codorus Twp. (NCT)
- Bollinger (Chairman), D. Schmidt – Heidelberg Twp. (HT)
- Miller (Vice-Chairman), S. Stambaugh (Secretary) – Manheim Twp. (MT)
- Hilt, R. Whyland – Spring Grove Borough (SGB)
- Bean – Chief of Police
- Nickell – Police Administrator
- Tilley – Solicitor
PUBLIC COMMENT: W. LeFever (NCT resident) stated that she is confident that public safety will not be jeopardized and that all four municipalities will work together to comprise a harmonious, acceptable compromise; and all four municipalities will continue to enjoy the safety of the Southwestern Regional Police Department. She asked the Board not to forget – “the first obligation of democracy is public safety” (Chief William J. Bratton, Ret LAPD). She requested everyone remain committed to maintaining or improving public safety. S. Hess (NCT resident) agreed with W. LeFever and asked if the Board would be discussing this tonight; M. Bollinger stated yes, and the floor will be open to public comment for additional comments if needed. L. Lehman (NCT resident) stated that the elected officials are obligated to serve the residents. He thinks a survey should be taken, especially of the NCT residents; the people need to be heard. Every day he sees more and more signs posted throughout the municipalities, supporting the police department. He believes people are becoming more upset about the situation. R. Hines (MT resident) thanked the Board for everything they are trying to do. He expressed appreciation to everyone trying to keep the police department together. He stated that if the residents lose this police department they will then realize how much they depend on them. You will not get the same level of service from the State Police. His residence is in the woods – he wants a police officer who 1) knows where his house is; 2) knows the area well enough to know where the woods surrounding his house lead to when/if chasing a suspect from his property.
MINUTES: Review of the minutes of February 13, 2019. Motion by R. Whyland, second by L. Miller to approve the minutes as presented. Motion carried with (1) abstention; M. Bollinger due to not attending the February meeting.
TREASURER’S REPORT: (Attachment A) Treasurer’s Report was presented. Motion by L. Miller, second by S. Stambaugh to accept the Treasurer’s Report as presented. Motion carried unanimously.
Chief stated there were 310 calls for service, 146 traffic stops, and 32 criminal charges filed on 20 offenders. A couple of the highlights for the month – 1) In NCT a hit and run accident was reported on Salem Road. A vehicle was hit from behind while stopped. The person in the stopped vehicle hit their head on the steering wheel and needed medical attention; the striking vehicle fled the scene. The fleeing vehicle was barely drivable, and was seen headed toward Rt. 30. It was called in as a disabled vehicle on Seven Valleys Rd. The officer arrived and realized it was the striking vehicle, driver was charged with Leaving the Scene of an Accident and Failure to Render Aid. Another traffic incident occurred on Trinity Road in NCT. An officer observed a vehicle traveling over 80 mph in front of them. The vehicle did not initially pull over, but eventually did. The driver was yelling at the officers, telling them to shoot him, being very uncooperative. The driver was safely taken into custody and charged with DUI and Fleeing & Eluding.
Chief’s Notes (Attachment B): The Chief’s Notes were presented as attached with the following additional comments:
- The gun ownership classes have been completed. The department provided four (4) classes and a total of 130 residents attended. The class for Manheim Township had the most in attendance – 58, to include Co-Chairman of the Police Board, Larry Miller.
- The department received a $100 donation from St. Paul’s United Church of Christ on Stoverstown Road in NCT. They have made a donation every year since the department was formed. Over the years we have assisted them by conducting presentations at their Sunday school classes.
- A draft copy of the 2018 annual report was provided to the Police Board several weeks ago. It will be published on the website after any changes requested by the Board are made. Highlights of the annual report include:
- Crime is down 47% in our jurisdiction since 2003 – the cooperation of our residents has greatly assisted us in decreasing crime.
- There were two (2) traffic deaths.
- Drug Overdoses – there were seventeen (17) reported overdoses in 2018, down from thirty-four (34) in 2017 (a 50% reduction). There were three (3) deaths in 2018; four (4) in 2017.
- The fleet of vehicles is aging with high mileage (over 150,000) on some of the cars. This will need to be addressed in the least expensive manner possible.Chief reported that Officer Poplin turned in a letter of resignation; his last day of employment was March 12th. He states one of the reasons for resigning is the instability of the department. He was a very good officer and our Firearms Instructor; a lot of time and effort went into his training. It is disheartening to see a quality officer leave.R. Whyland stated there was an error on page 10 of the annual report. Chief replied that he would make the correction. Once this is done he will put it on the website and distribute a copy to the municipal managers at his monthly meeting with each of them. There were no other questions or comments from the Board; they agreed it would be appropriate to share the report once the correction is made.OLD BUSINESS:
Letter Received from NCT – M. Bollinger stated that in January a Personnel Committee comprising of B. Hilt and R. Whyland was assigned the task of putting a 2020 budget together for the purpose of saving money and keeping all four (4) municipalities together. An Executive Session was conducted about two weeks ago to discuss said 2020 budget and have the municipal representatives take it back to their respective Boards during an Executive Session to get their input/acceptance. Heidelberg, Manheim and Spring Grove are willing to work with the budget presented; NCT sent a letter stating they intend to go through with the withdrawal. Tonight the first step for the Police Board is to authorize legal counsel to begin negotiating the payments from NCT for next year. The following comments and questions were presented by the public:
- J. Rebert (NCT) asked:
- What did the letter from NCT say? M. Bollinger read the letter aloud, (attachment c). The letter basically states that they think they can provide better quality service at a cost savings, so they are going forward with separating from the department. It also states that Chief Bean did not recommend the reduction in staff as called for in the proposed 2020 budget.
- What was the proposed budget? Chief replied: Reducing police officer staff from 14 to 11. This provided just under 25% savings to the budget, and we would continue to provide 24/7 police coverage, although there would also be a 25% reduction in service hours.
- Why didn’t the Chief recommend the staff reduction (as stated in the letter from NCT). Chief replied it is not true, this is a misunderstanding. What he said was 14 officers is exactly right for the service we presently provide. He presented the plan of 11 officers, and would not have done so if he didn’t think it was going to work. This plan reduces hours of services as well as personnel.
- Why didn’t NCT agree to the proposal? R. Shearer stated in part because the schedule included the Chief filling patrol shifts, and this goes against the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). He stated that early-on, before he was on the Police Board, Chief did work some patrol shifts and two (2) officers threatened to file a grievance because he was taking overtime away from the officers. R. Whyland stated that they (Personnel Committee) did not take the step of presenting this idea to the Police Association yet; they wanted to wait until they found out if all the municipalities were on-board with it first. There is also a change in health insurance carriers, which also needs to be negotiated with the Police Association. One of the municipal members had intended on buying some of the service hours from NCT and MT in order to maintain their present level of hours, but this was never discussed since we have not been able to get past step 1.
- What is the status of the actuarial study of the police pension? V. Nickell replied that the study has been ordered and she was told it would take at least three (3) months to complete. She informed the pension provider that was too long, and they said they would try to get it done as quickly as possible; she doesn’t expect to see is any earlier than two (2) months though (April).
- M. Bollinger listed the proposed 2020 budget as follows:
- NCT – Cut from $1,150, 493.83 to $866,068.73; savings of $284,425.10
- HT – Cut from $435,876.69 to $328,119.25; savings of $107,757.44
- MT – Cut from $387,479.20 to $291,686.59; savings of $95,792.61
- SGB – Cut from $401,603.65 to $302,319.19; savings of $99,284.46
- The letter sent by NCT must be taken seriously, regardless of the fact that we want them to stay. The Police Board needs to move forward and start the process of figuring out what NCT will owe for 2020.
- A NCT resident asked:
- How does this budget compare to other quotes NCT has received? R. Shearer stated that he has not received exact numbers yet, he is expecting a quote from West Manchester Township and Northern York Area Regional in May.
- If the quotes come back higher than the budget proposed above, will NCT rescind the letter to withdraw? R. Shearer stated that they could, but the process that they have started takes a very long time to complete. A lot of time and money has been invested in this, and it appears they can receive very good police service from either one for less money.
- Will NCT go with another department if the quote is higher? R. Shearer stated “no”, M. Bollinger reminded everyone that NCT will also be paying Southwestern Regional (SWRPD) a penalty for 2020, so will probably be paying substantially more than what another department quotes.
- Will taxes go up due to having to pay a penalty? R. Shearer answered that he doesn’t think M. Bollinger is correct about the penalty; he is making a “guesstimate”. He continued, stating the Police Association was wrong to send out letters stating that residents would no longer have police protection; they are playing on the emotions of the residents.
- J. Poplin (NCT resident), stated that NCT has done the same thing in playing on people’s emotions in their recent letter. They state that the Chief did not support reducing staff to 11 officers – who would? If the best service is with 14 officers, why would he? You would expect him to say he prefers 14, but is presenting 11 in order to save money. By reducing hours you are reducing pro-active policing. He has arrested many people in NCT with narcotics & DUI’s; people that are completely obliterated on heroin, crack-cocaine, alcohol. This is accomplished during the time that NCT supervisors say they don’t need. He has been a resident of NCT for ten (10) years and bought a second home in the township so he could continue to work for the police department. The fact that NCT wants to reduce the time when officers are “doing nothing” is absurd in his opinion. The pro-active policing (patrol time) is when officers discover people breaking the law, i.e., driving while intoxicated. NCT had more hours per week than they are proposing when they had their own department (4 officers plus the Chief came to 200 hours a week). R. Shearer disputed this statement.
- Chief Bean interjected that SWRPD has the lowest hourly rate in the county, therefore; the only way for NCT to save money is to reduce their hours of service. They currently pay for 250 hours per week. We have tried to sell some hours to other communities, and that has not worked to-date. The proposed 2020 budget reduces their hours to 190 per week.
- M. Bollinger stated that the penalty has not been calculated yet; tonight the Board needs to authorize legal counsel to begin the process. There are two separate components – what will NCT quarterly payments be next year and what is the value of the assets (building) to be paid back to them over an extended time period. The Police Board has tried to present a budget to keep the department together, to no avail.
- M. Muir, Manheim Township Supervisor, requested more information on a statement made by R. Whyland regarding the possibility of there only being one officer on duty at times in the proposed budget. If there is only one officer working, and they are on a call in SGB when another call comes in for MT, how can they respond? This would not be 24/7 service. R. Whyland replied that in order to avoid that situation the Sergeants and the Chief would be used to fill shifts as needed. B. Hilt stated that even now there are times when we require back up from surrounding departments and vice versa.
- S. Hess (NCT resident) stated he finds it hard to believe that another department will be able to deliver the service they receive today at a reduced cost.
- What does NCT want in order to make this work? R. Shearer explained that the event that brought this situation about was when the Police Board began talking about selling some hours in order to save money. NCT contacted Jackson Township (JT) at that time, and was told they were paying $752,000 for 2019, as compared to the proposed SWRPD budget of $1,050,000 for NCT. The demographics of JT are similar to NCT, with a little more industry and slightly higher population density. He then asked for and received permission from the NCT Board to ask Northern Regional for a ball-park figure. Northern Regional asked for three (3) years of crime stats and calls for service. After he supplied them with that information they called him with a ball-park figure of between $685,000 – $700,000 for 2019. They explained this would be the same service that JT receives, and they have 1,000 more calls for service in a year than NCT. This was all verbal, he doesn’t have anything in writing.
- Are they hiring additional officers that will be stationed in NCT? R. Shearer stated yes, they are hiring more officers, and West Manchester told him the same thing, only they would require an additional .5 officer to provide service. M. Bollinger stated that if they are hiring more officers that means they have given NCT numbers and are getting ready to take over their police service. R. Shearer stated that he has not seen a contract yet.
- S. Hess stated he has no problem paying for SWRPD. He feels comfortable with the service they provide, he will not feel comfortable getting service from a department located in a different area. NCT needs to mail a survey to every resident in NCT to find out what the residents want. If the majority of the residents want SWRPD, shouldn’t they be permitted to have them? R. Shearer stated that the NCT Board of Supervisors intends to provide excellent police service for their residents, there is no reason they wouldn’t. S. Hess stated that this decision not only affects NCT, but the police department will not survive. M. Bollinger stated that is not a known fact yet, we are working on ways to keep the remaining municipalities intact.
- L. Miller stated that the residents need to realize that the NCT supervisors are doing exactly what they have been elected to do – providing for the health, safety and welfare, work the will of the majority, and spend tax dollars in a responsible manner. Finding out the will of the majority can be difficult. If NCT can realize a 30% savings by using another police department, then they should, and in doing so will be doing what they were elected to do. Chief Bean said in a previous meeting that NCT could do with 100 hours less. Chief disputed this, stating he has the memo that he sent out regarding this (selling time to New Freedom), and it states 26 hours less per week for NCT. He stated the 100 hours that has been brought up in previous meetings was never suggested by him. L. Miller stated that the state calculates the level of service a municipality needs based on three (3) years of call history, road miles and population. This is the calculation Northern Regional and West Manchester use to determine what level of service is needed and the cost. If they can provide adequate service at 30% less, that is what the residents elected them to do.
- S. Hess did not agree with L. Miller; he said he elected them to do what the residents of the community want done. If you drive around the township you will see all the signs in support of keeping the police department. He thinks it is obvious what the majority wants; but believes a survey would be the best way to find out for sure.
- J. Rebert (NCT) asked:
- W. LeFever (NCT resident) stated she has several concerns. She understands the desire of NCT to save residents money, but their role is to enact the will of the people. She believes a simple survey asking what the residents want mailed to every residence is the way to find out the will of the majority. If NCT is not willing to conduct a survey, maybe this is something the residents could undertake. NCT is not looking at the big picture. If saving money destabilizes the police department to the point they do not exist they are not serving the best interests of any of the residents, to include those in our other municipalites. It is in everybody’s best interest to keep SWRPD intact; she encouraged people to pack the meetings of NCT and keep telling the elected representatives what they want. She acknowledged that R. Shearer has said there are people that support leaving SWRPD, but she believes the vast majority of the people do not and once again encouraged a survey.
- M. Muir (MT supervisor) stated that he agrees with what W. LeFever stated about this having an effect on the other municipalities and that we should be doing what is best for our townships. MT looked into surrounding police departments and found them to be closer than the SWRPD station. They also said they would provide more patrol time. It isn’t cut and dry to say that SWRPD is the best for everybody. Chief Bean stated that this was a pretty bold statement – is there any documentation that shows the response times will be quicker and that you’ll have more patrol time from another department for less money? M. Muir replied that he read an article in the newspaper this weekend that stated the Chief said he could not give them response times because he has never tracked it; so he cannot even give those numbers. When MT has a police department three (3) minutes from their boarder, he assumes the response time will be quicker. Chief Bean stated he wants to see documentation to back this claim up. The reason he cannot give a response time is because each call is different. If the call is a woman being chased by her husband with a knife, the response time is very quick; it it’s the dog ran out the back door last night, it’s not as fast. A municipality gets the fastest response when they have an officer assigned to their area. M. Muir asked what if the other departments assign an officer to their area. Chief responded that they would pay twice as much as they do now. M. Muir stated he does not understand how the Chief can unequivocally say that SWRPD has faster response times to MT than departments that border their municipality. Chief stated he has lived and breathed it for 17years, so he can unequivocally say this. M. Muir stated that was very bold – Chief replied it is completely factual. R. Whyland stated that this exchange goes to prove to everybody here that there is more than money involved in this situation. These are discussions that end up in personnel files. If people had been attending the Police Board meetings routinely they would have heard similar conversations. This is not something he is willing to sit here and discuss.
- D. Schmidt stated the letter from NCT says, “When the Chief was asked a direct question with regards to the municipal budget and personnel changes he made it clear that he doesn’t recommend it. Therefore, if the Chief doesn’t support these changes the SWRP Board has to have questions whether or not this will work.” He wrote down what the Chief said when the 2020 budget proposal was made and the Chief did not say he didn’t support it, his words were, “it’s not ideal”. He thinks there is a difference in saying he doesn’t support the change (reducing officers from 14 to 11) – he never said he doesn’t support it, just that it’s not ideal. This part of the letter from NCT paints the wrong impression – that the Chief doesn’t support the reduction of officers, when that is not what he said. R. Shearer said Chief said at their meeting he did not recommend it. If someone doesn’t recommend something, how will they enforce it? D. Schmidt said when someone states something isn’t ideal, that is a completely difference concept than not supporting it. He never gave the impression that he wouldn’t work with it or support it. He’s a professional, he’s been doing this for many years and he know what’s ideal, and that is what he said – he said 14 officers was ideal.
- J. Rebert stated that prior to regionalizing they had three (3) separate police departments with three (3) separate chiefs. Everyone worked together for the greater good. Some of the current officers came from these three (3) original departments; they know the jurisdictions much better than any other department that would take over. They know the EMS personnel, losing these officers will be a liability to those in the fire and ambulance departments. He can’t believe NCT can’t be more patient and work out their issues instead of leaving. NCT has written two (2) letters stating their intent to leave, and they don’t even have their facts & figures from the other departments yet. R. Shearer stated NCT has been very patient; and J. Rebert should know it takes time to get information from others.
- A NCT resident stated that the Chief raised his hand and took an oath, and for the NCT supervisors to think he would not adhere to that oath and support the department in the ways to keep it together is very disrespectful to him. Board members need to remember they were elected to serve the residents.
- A NCT resident asked R. Shearer if he could confirm at the next NCT meeting whether or not they are going to do a survey. R. Shearer stated that this decision was a long time in the making, they have been struggling with this for years. Especially the last four (4) years. He sat through the negotiating of two (2) police contracts and they did not go the way they should have. The reaction of the officers has been very disappointing; they have come to public meetings and said they are willing to talk and their door is open. There was a meeting between some board members and some officers a few months ago and they had nothing to say – this put them back to “ground zero”. He is up for re-election this year, all the people have to do is vote him out, he stated he won’t lose any sleep over it. He feels very strongly about his beliefs and thinks he is doing what is best for the residents of NCT; he cannot help it if they do not believe that.
- J. Poplin (NCT resident) stated that he was at the meeting R. Shearer just referred to, and R. Shearer sat in the meeting for an hour and did not say a word. The whole purpose of the meeting was to give the Board members an opportunity to tell the officers what they want changed, and he did not say a word. There are always two sides to every story, and it appears that Mr. Shearer keeps feeding his side to everyone in order to achieve his personal agenda. He isn’t disputing that the officers didn’t discuss issues, but the whole story needs to be told. L. Miller also attended the meeting, and he had a lot to say, J. Poplin stated he appreciated what he had to say. L Miller stated that the officers invited the Board members to the meeting, so they assumed the officers had specific items to discuss. A couple Board members cannot discuss things without the approval of the entire Police Board. This is why they were expecting the officers to have some ideas to present to them. J. Poplin stated they were expecting an open conversation about what they could do to make the Police Board happier. He takes responsibility for the fact that the officers did not have specific items to discuss, but you can’t say they didn’t say anything – they talked for almost an hour. R. Shearer didn’t say anything until the very end of the meeting, and all he said was that he enjoyed being a Supervisor. To say the officers did not participate in the dialogue is absolutely false. His point is you have to tell people the whole story, not just your half. W. Tilley stated that the Police Board needs to begin the process of negotiating the Separation Agreement. He needs to talk with their solicitor. In particular, NCT will continue to make quarterly payments in 2020. The budget may be less so their payments may be less. According to the Articles of Agreement they get a credit toward those payments for the balance of the items contributed after depreciation has been applied. According to Exhibit “B” of the Articles of Agreement the amount of the items contributed was $124,000 and he expects the items have now depreciated to zero. If NCT disagrees, we can get a court to interpret the agreement. An agreement needs to be made about this before the end of the year in order for all members to do their 2020 budgeting. The Board needs to authorize him to start negotiating the 2020 payments with the NCT solicitor. The second part of the Separation Agreement that needs addressed is the expenses attributed to the separation, but that can be done in 2020 after the separation has occurred. The thing the Board needs to address tonight is starting the process of negotiating a Separation Agreement. R. Whyland asked if the Board is bound by regulations to have the budget ready for 2020. W. Tilley explained the municipalities have a deadline for their budgets, and that is where the timing of the police budget comes in. M. Bollinger stated that if we do not have a budget we continue using the 2017 budget. R. Whyland asked if all eight (8) Police Board members get to vote on the 2020 budget up until 12/31/19. W. Tilley stated “yes”, because they are all members. R. Shearer asked the Board if they are comfortable having Stock & Leader represent them in this matter. M. Bollinger and B. Hilt stated “yes”; any disagreements can be ruled on by the court. R. Shearer thinks it should be voted upon. M. Bollinger stated that since NCT has their own legal representation he doesn’t see any problem with using Stock & Leader. R. Shearer stated it would be very easy to get another legal opinion on what the Articles of Agreement say. M. Bollinger said time constraints would not allow us to delay this another couple of months. L. Miller asked if W. Tilley will be able to negotiate this without emotion playing a part. W. Tilley replied that he does not think he has been emotional here. L. Miller stated that sometimes he gets a feeling W. Tilley tends to try to get things to happen according to his wishes. He has had concerns in the past, but as of now he is satisfied with what has been done. W. Tilley replied that it is a very difficult time to navigate. He is trying to give the best advice he can based on the information he is given. His job is to protect the rights of the Police Department and each municipality and to get through things without everything blowing apart. Based on the discussions tonight he thinks everyone understands one another’s position, even if they don’t agree with it. It has all been laid out well for the public tonight. The path forward is not to focus on personal issues, but on the legal aspects of the situation in order to facilitate the departure if it comes, and if it doesn’t then you can work things out with the budget and negotiations with the Police Association. L. Miller stated W. Tilley talking about “things blowing apart” concerns him; that is an emotional statement. His statements should be limited to legal, not emotional. W. Tilley stated there are options and decisions an attorney makes about how to proceed. He is giving his recommendation for how to proceed on a legal basis. He has laid out the discussion points that he thought would be appropriate and constructive for each municipality and the Police Board. There are other options that one could do; i.e. file an injunction action, but he does not think that is the right thing to do. He is recommending what he thinks is right for moving forward. If the Board authorizes him to begin negotiating the Separation Agreement and that goes quickly, then the budget process can begin, it avoids litigation; it stabilizes the department for at least the next twelve (12) months. W. Tilley thanked L. Miller for his questions and allowing him the opportunity to explain. L. Miller was satisfied with the explanation given by W. Tilley.Motion by R. Whyland, second by D. Schmidt authorizing W. Tilley to being negotiating the Separation Agreement with the North Codorus solicitor. Motion carried with one (1) opposing vote (R. Shearer).OTHER ITEMS:V. Nickell stated that if the department is going to end its contract with Benecon for the health insurance we need to notify them by June 30th. This is something that the Board needs to begin examining so it can be done in a timely manner. Changing will have to be negotiated with the Officer’s Association because it will not be the exact same benefit; some of the co-pays are higher. M. Bollinger stated the next step is for the Negotiation Committee to meet and review the new insurance. The Negotiating Committee comprises of B. Whyland, B. Hilt, L. Miller and R. Shearer.V. Nickell reminded the Board members that she needs their Financial Interest Statements by the next meeting. So far she has received them from R. Whyland and B. Hilt.Motion by L. Miller second by M. Bollinger to approve the Negotiating Committee holding a meeting with the Police Officers Association concerning health insurance changes. Motion carried unanimously.D. Schmidt asked if Chief Bean has been using the “Next Door” app. Chief explained it is a social networking app that people use to chat about things going on within their neighborhood. He thinks this is a very good venue to enable discussion back and forth with our residents. D. Schmidt explained it is a free service that he used in Maryland, you sign up by municipality. Sgt. Greene monitors the app and keeps the Chief updated.An Executive Session was to be held, but Chief said he can address the issue through a memo to the Board at a later time. R. Shearer stated that he thinks we need an Executive Session to discuss personnel. R. Whyland stated that he does not want the Annual Report distributed until the correction has been made. W. LeFever asked if the Board could share the 2020 budget proposal that NCT turned down. R. Whyland stated that is not complete, there are other things that need to be done as we work through it, but they weren’t going to do that until NCT accepted it. The proposal resulted in a 25% reduction in cost to each municipality, as well as a reduction in hours of service. It included the health insurance savings – which is a moving target.
- Meeting adjourned into executive session at 8:28 pm.