November 2018 Minutes

SOUTHWESTERN REGIONAL POLICE BOARD

November 14, 2018 – 7:00 PM

 

Meeting called to order by Chairman M. Bollinger at 7:00 pm. The following were in attendance:

  1. Shearer, R. Lint – N. Codorus Twp.
  2. Bollinger, T. Frock – Heidelberg Twp.
  3. Miller – Manheim Twp.
  4. Hilt, R. Whyland – Spring Grove Borough
  5. Bean – Chief of Police
  6. Nickell – Police Administrator
  7. Tilley – Solicitor

 

PUBLIC COMMENT: None at this time, will have another opportunity after “Report On Member Status” is discussed.

 

MINUTES: Review of the minutes of October 10, 2018.  Motion by R. Whyland, second by B. Hilt to approve the minutes as presented.  Motion carried with (1) abstention; L. Miller due to the fact he did not attend last month’s meeting.

 

TREASURER’S REPORT: (Attachment A) Treasurer’s Report was presented. B. Hilt asked what a “Stealth Stath” is; Chief Bean explained it is the box we mount in areas of speeding complaints to record the speeds of vehicles in order to ascertain if speeding is occurring.  Motion by B. Hilt, second by L. Miller to approve the Treasurer’s report as presented.  Motion passed unanimously.

 

CHIEF’S REPORT:

 

Chief shared a video of a police pursuit on Rt. 116 where stop sticks were utilized in order to get the offender to stop. This was reported as an erratic driver, and it was suspected to be a DUI.  The stop sticks are designed to puncture the tires in a manner that causes them to slowly deflate, thereby safely stopping the vehicle.  Once the vehicle stopped and the officers were able to ascertain the situation it was discovered that the driver was suffering from a medical issue, causing him to drive erratically.  An ambulance was summoned.

 

Chief’s Notes (Attachment B): The Chief’s Notes were presented as attached with the following additional comments:

 

Item 3 – Residents Survey – Professor Witherup will be attending the next Board meeting so Board members can communicate directly with her about the survey. The proposed list of questions will be provided to Board members in a couple of weeks so they have an opportunity to look them over before meeting with Professor Witherup.

 

Item 4 – Gun Ownership Classes – The department conducted one class, and due to the positive response, have decided to schedule a class in each municipality. Some of the items covered are gun laws in general; concealed weapon laws; what to do in an active shooter situation. Each class has been scheduled, with the exception of Heidelberg.

Item 6 – Church Letters Sent – Churches have expressed a heightened concern after the shooting at the Synagogue in Pittsburgh. In response, the Chief has sent letters to all the churches in our jurisdiction outlining what they can do to be prepared.

 

Training, Meetings, Other Items – The IRS requested an officer to stand-by at the auctioning off of a house in Heidelberg Township that was being auctioned for back-taxes. The IRS agent issued a check for our assistance on the spot.

 

Press Releases – Batteries Stolen – This occurred at Scotty’s Tire Service, S. Stambaugh’s business. We did get some good video of the theft; they stole (6) used batteries worth $5 a piece.  The vehicle used was a dark green Ford pickup truck.  The video has been released on social media, but there aren’t any leads to-date.

 

OLD BUSINESS:

 

2019 MMO:  V. Nickell reiterated the information she gave last month regarding the State Aid received and reminded the Board that they need to make a final decision regarding how much the officer contribution should be for 2019.  The MMO presented in September was with a 5% contribution from the officers.  She distributed information to the Board showing what the MMO would be at different contribution levels.  The Board did not take any action on this item, but will need to do so at the December meeting.  W. Tilley advised that discussion of changing the percentage should take place in Executive Session.

 

NEW BUSINESS:

 

Non-Uniform Pension Excess Interest Award:  V. Nickell reported that for the first time ever, the Non-Uniform Pension with PMRS was awarded excess interest. The amount was $1,283.  The way it is set up, this money will automatically roll over into the employee’s account unless the Board decides to use it to offset future MMO’s.  If they want to do this, they will have to pass a motion to adopt a Resolution (#18-01), which she provided.  They can choose to split the award at any percentage level or to put 100% toward future MMO’s.  We received $4600 in State Aid this year for the Non-Uniform Pension.  Motion by R. Whyland, second by L. Miller to adopt Resolution 18-01 to put 100% of the Excess Interest Award toward future MMO’s.  Motion carried unanimously.

 

REPORT ON MEMBER STATUS

 

  1. Tilley stated that he wanted to provide a report on the work he has done over the past month, researching the possible consequences of the potential withdrawal of North Codorus Township (NCT). In talking with Chief Bean and M. Bollinger it was determined it was appropriate to share this information in a public meeting so everybody is informed and on the same page.

 

  1. Shearer asked when the Board took action for W. Tilley to do this research. W. Tilley replied there wasn’t a motion by the Board; it is information the Board needs to know in order to move forward. The attorney from NCT requested a Separation Agreement in 30 days. In order for this Separation Agreement to be made, he had to research the Articles of Agreement and financial documents so he could advise the Board. R. Shearer stated that last month W. Tilley said we were not under any obligation to meet the 30-day request from the NCT solicitor.  W. Tilley stated this is true, but there is information everyone, to include the public, needs –  there needs to be an analysis of how to handle this request.  R. Shearer opposed this, stating that public action needed to be taken in order to spend the money for W. Tilley to do this research and analysis.  L. Miller stated that in the past W. Tilley would ask the Board what actions they wanted him to take.  W. Tilley stated that he had to do this work in order to answer questions about the Letter of Intent to Withdraw.  A request was made during Executive Session to find out what the consequences were of NCT withdrawing from the Department.  L. Miller stated that decisions cannot be made in Executive Session.  W. Tilley stated a solicitor can be asked to do legal research during Executive Session.  R. Shearer asked how many Board members were in the Executive Session; he does not agree with how the Executive Session was conducted.  R. Shearer asked if the rest of the Board is ok with how W. Tilley came about to do this research.  L. Miller stated that he questions it.  M. Bollinger stated that he needs all the information W. Tilley gathered in order to make any decisions.  R. Shearer stated that was fine, but the decision to do the research should have been done in public session.  W. Tilley stated that he is trying to keep the public informed by giving the results of his research during a public meeting.  R. Shearer stated that this was brought up a couple of months ago when one or two people on the Board were making requests and driving up the legal fees.  Requests for legal research need to be made in public and approved by a quorum of the Board.  W. Tilley stated that it is unusual for these types of requests to be made in public because of attorney-client privilege.  He doesn’t have any clients that discuss these things in public session.  R. Shearer stated that is only if you are preparing for litigation.  W. Tilley stated no, it can be for a number of reasons; decisions involving personnel issues (this situations touches upon that); contract negotiations – any time that attorney-client privilege applies.  R. Shearer stated that last month the meeting was adjourned into Executive Session, and W. Tilley told L. Riebling that there would be no action taken after Executive Session.  Within days NCT received a letter of response from W. Tilley; that is action taken.  If that is the way this Board is going to handle things, it is going to make things rockier down the road.  W. Tilley responded that if he read the letter, it is obvious no decisions were made.  R. Shearer stated that the letter said he had approval to get an actuarial study done.  W. Tilley stated the letter says the Board intends to retain an actuarial study, but it will be done in a public meeting.  R. Shearer stated that he shouldn’t have approved the Stock & Leader bill; W. Tilley is doing things that were not requested by a quorum of the Board.  M. Bollinger stated that the Board received a letter from NCT in which they requested a response within 30 days.  R. Shearer stated that last month W. Tilley said we didn’t have to respond in 30 days, and that should have ended it.  W. Tilley stated that the Board is trying to act in good faith in response to the Letter of Intent to Withdraw submitted by NCT, and that the actions taken were appropriate.  R. Shearer stated that the Board members who were in the Executive session are all fairly new to the Board and those that have been on the Board for a long time didn’t have any say in this and he wants to go on record that he thinks this was all in very poor taste.  W. Tilley responded that the Board members who attended the Executive Session are competent and fully qualified to make the decisions that needed to be made.

 

  1. Tilley provided the Board and those in public attendance with a copy of the Articles of Agreement. Article 13, starting on page 11, addresses withdrawal from the department. Section B addresses what costs will be covered by the withdrawing municipality. At the top of page 12, the third line down, it states “Upon withdrawal, a municipality shall receive, in cash or in kind, as determined by the Board, an amount equal to its capital contributions reflected in Exhibit “B” or Exhibit “C”, subject to deduction or adjustment for depreciation and obsolescence…”.  One of the tasks he had to complete was to find out what the capital contributions were.  The result is the second item in the packet entitled “Start Up Share Report”; this is Exhibit “B” referred to in the Articles of Agreement. According to this document, NCT was to contribute $130,055.94 and received a $590 credit, making their capital contribution $129,465.94. We do not have evidence that NCT paid that amount.  The next document is the 2002 financial report.  At the top it shows NCT paid $79,088.83 in Start Up Costs.  It appears that the amount paid will then be applied to the items at their depreciated value.  The services of an accounting firm will be needed to trace the funds and verify this.  This is just an initial assessment, but it appears that NCT would not be receiving any credit for the Capital Contribution to reduce their liability.  If this analysis is correct, his estimate of the penalty being around $1,000,000 is probably going to be a reasonable estimate.  The NCT portion of the annual budget is around $992,500 per year and when you add the cost of the Separation Agreement and other items it will probably come to about $1,000,000.  He looked into how the building is handled, and his initial conclusion is it is not part of the Capital Contribution contemplated by the Articles of Agreement.  The Articles of Agreement reflects the 2002 Start-Up Costs and the building contributions were made in 2007.  This all needs to be analyzed by accounting professionals.

 

After last month’s Board meeting W. Tilley was contacted by the solicitor for NCT, who stated that the NCT Board members (R. Shearer and R. Lint) should not be recused from future Executive Sessions where the withdrawal is discussed. He disagrees, as he thinks it is a conflict of interest for them. In an effort to resolve this issue, he has sent a letter to the State Ethics Commission explaining the situation and requesting they issue an advisory opinion.  He recommends the Board does not have any further Executive Sessions to discuss this matter until we know who is allowed to participate.  R. Whyland asked how long it may take to get an answer from them; W. Tilley stated he has never requested and advisory opinion from them before, but one of his colleagues estimates six months.  The Board did not have any further questions or comments on the information presented by W. Tilley.

 

Chief Bean gave an update on what he has done to try to cut costs as follows:

  • Sell hours to other municipalities – have reached out to six (6) municipalities. The Chief, M. Bollinger and B. Whyland attended some of their meetings, Chief sent each a letter, and he has followed up with phone calls. Unfortunately, he has not had any positive response to-date.
  • Join another regional department – there are two possibilities, one is not interested and the other department’s history would not make them a plausible choice.
  • Reduce costs within the department – our biggest cost is personnel, so the reduction of personnel is the most effective way to cut costs. He would recommend doing this through attrition, not lay-offs. We would not replace the next two officers who leave employment. Unfortunately, reducing staff will cause a reduction in hours and service. Reducing personnel by two would cause the need of changing some items in the CBA. The Police Association has sent out a letter stating they are willing to talk and be a part of the solution.
  • Chief needs direction from the Board regarding how much they want to reduce costs. He needs to know what it will take to keep the Department together. He can’t really go any further until he gets this direction. He would be happy to meet with Board members and/or municipal staff for further discussions.
    • L. Miller stated he will have to discuss it with his other two supervisors to see what they have in mind.
    • R. Shearer stated that he cannot give a specific answer right now, but he can explain what sparked this. A couple of years ago when New Freedom and Glen Rock approached us about buying hours from us Chief said this could be done by hiring two (2) part-time officers. He said that NCT could sell 100 hours. NCT called Jackson Township to see what they are paying and were told $752,000; $250,000 less than they are paying. Chief stated he will attend the next NCT meeting and ask the question of how much time they want; how much they want to pay for police service.
    • M. Bollinger requested the Board members to reach out to their respective municipal Board members and ask what is needed to keep the department together, and then contact the Chief so he know what to do next. PUBLIC COMMENT: Willa LeFever, a resident of NCT, stated she believes we have a civic duty to work toward win-win solutions whenever possible. While there are challenges with NCT’s relationship with Southwestern Regional Police (SWRPD) and the other municipal members within the department, NCT withdrawing from SWRPD blesses no one. She would like to see NCT stay with SWRPD and work with the other member municipalities to make this a regional department that other municipalities want to join. She stood in the rain from 6:45 am to 5:30 pm on Election Day handing out flyers made by a group of concerned citizens who volunteer their time. The only reason she stopped at 5:30 is because she ran out of flyers. The general consensus of the residents of NCT is to stay with SWRPD. The NCT supervisors and some of the residents do have legitimate concerns and she would like to see a “town hall” type meeting where everybody gets to have their say about the issue. She thinks everybody involved needs to compromise. The municipalities may have to pay a little more than they want to, the officers may have to take a pay cut. She thinks everyone can work together in good faith and stop all the conflict; becoming a stable police department that other municipalities want to join. John Rebert, a resident of NCT, stated he helped hand out over 2,000 brochures on Election Day. For 22 years he has served the community in various ways – on the School Board, as a NCT Supervisor, and on the SWRPD Board, to include the groundwork to begin the police department. In those 22 years he saw a lot of issues come up, and he never saw one that couldn’t be settled. He stated that the decisions made on a local level affect residents every day; it’s not like the Federal or State Government. Everybody needs to get along; it’s not any one person’s fault. The Board members are talking over one another and not listening to each other, and things cannot get resolved this way. They don’t need Chief Bean or W. Tilley included in the discussions, they can sit down and work it out. He doesn’t want NCT to withdraw from SWRPD and believes this can be settled if everyone eats a little of their pride and sits down and discusses the issues in a civil manner.L. Miller disagreed with the assessment that the members of the Police Board are fighting among themselves. He thinks the NCT Supervisors are doing their job, working the will of the majority of their residents. They are using their tax dollars to provide needed services at the most economical cost. If they can provide adequate police services for 30% less, he guarantees the taxpayers expect them to do it. He hears from the residents of Manheim Township (MT) every year at budget time and during contract negotiations. There are examples of surrounding communities that are larger than MT that rely totally on State Police, and they are happy. MT would save $1,000 a day if they would stop using SWRPD and it is becoming a heated issue. The Police Board is not fighting; they are trying to figure out a way to make it work. He complimented Ms. LeFever’s optimism and agreed with Mr. Rebert’s statement that we had serious issues in the past that were resolved. Costs are now getting out of control, and the Police Board is trying to figure it out; it’s not easy. W. Tilley stated that the Police Board is working hard to resolve this; that is part of why he was requested to do all the research that he did. He agreed that he does not have to be involved in the discussions; the Board members are capable of working this out amongst themselves. People do not get upset about things they don’t care about; it’s obvious everyone around the table cares about the outcome of this. He expects it will take time and there will be some hard discussions, but eventually they will work it out. W. LeFever asked if the Police Board has initiated litigation against NCT. W. Tilley answered no, he is not aware of any litigation, and doesn’t know why there would be. J. Rebert asked about arbitration; once again, W. Tilley answered no. J. Rebert stated that he doesn’t think NCT should have been recused from Executive Session last month; why did W. Tilley recuse them? W. Tilley replied that when a member of a Board has an interest adverse to the Board, they recuse themselves from the negotiations. The NCT solicitor does not agree with this assessment, which is why he has written to the State Ethics Commission for an opinion. His goal is to keep this as amicable and non-conflicting as possible. He is here to provide information; not to take sides. As far as he can tell his work is done at this point; he has given the legal analysis. When he responded to the NCT solicitor, he closed the letter stating that the Chief and Board members want to work this out so that NCT remains a member municipality.  B. Kaiser, a NCT resident asked what the population of Jackson Township is in comparison with NCT. R. Shearer replied they are within about 1,000 and Jackson Township had 1,000 more calls for service.W. LeFever asked if R. Shearer recused himself from Executive Session last month or was he recused by W. Tilley? W. Tilley replied that the Board adjourned from Public Session and went into Executive Session. At that point he told R. Shearer and R. Lint that because we were going to be discussing a response to their Notice of Intent to Withdraw in which they asked us to develop a Separation Agreement, and he felt it constituted a conflict of interest on their part. The remaining three municipalities had to discuss among themselves the response to the request for a Separation Agreement. W. Tilley requested R. Shearer and R. Lind recuse themselves, and they did. They left and did not participate in the Executive Session. A couple of days later he received the letter from the NCT solicitor stating that he disagreed with the need for them to recuse themselves. There isn’t a need to discuss a Separation Agreement in Executive Session for now, because discussions tonight appear to be leaning toward trying to work this out. He also recommends the Board does not conduct anymore Executive Sessions to discuss this until we get an answer from the State Ethics Commission regarding their position on the conflict of interest issue.W. LeFever asked R. Shearer if he recused himself last month. R. Shearer stated that he did not require a police escort out, but he wants to go on record that if it happens again he will. W. Tilley stated that he will not be asked to recuse himself again if the State Ethics Commission doesn’t require it. R. Shearer stated that he doesn’t understand how it is a conflict of interest. The reason NCT Board voted to submit the Letter of Intent to Withdraw at their budget meeting instead of the regular monthly meeting was because a) one of their supervisors wasn’t in attendance at the regular monthly meeting and b) the Police Board members were going to meet with Chief Bean the following Saturday to discuss how to save costs; they weren’t going to decide whether or not to withdraw until after they heard what he had to say. They decided to do it now in order to give the Police Board a “heads up” that they mean business this time. The Police Board started to take action immediately at the October meeting (1 day after receiving the Letter of Intent to Withdraw). The letter doesn’t go into effect until January 1, 2019, and the withdrawal January 1, 2020. W. Tilley replied that isn’t exactly accurate, the letter stated that NCT wanted a Separation Agreement within 30 days from the date of the letter. That would have been before tonight. R. Shearer stated that the Police Board’s response could have been that “the Articles of Agreement don’t state it has to be done in 30 days”, and that would have been the end of it. The Letter of Intent to Withdraw should not be a surprise to this Board; NCT has been concerned about costs since 2004. He also stated he has a stack of minutes of about 30 pages with complaints and discussion against the department over the last 16 years, but M. Bollinger said last month he has never heard a complaint against this department – either he has a poor memory or he is not telling the truth. NCT has record of complaints; maybe this department doesn’t but NCT does. He doesn’t want anyone to lose their job; he has nothing personal to gain from the withdrawal. He can’t justify a 30% difference in cost. He can justify some, it’s going to cost them to withdraw, but he can’t justify $350,000. W. LeFever stated that the majority of NCT residents want to stay with the police department. R. Shearer stated that is not true; that is not the feedback they are getting. Chairman Bollinger called order.R. Whyland stated that if we can reduce the hours by 100; what does that mean – what do we need to do to accomplish this? If $750,000 is the magic number, what do we have to do as a Board to get to that? L. Miller stated that this is what Chief Bean was referring to when he asked for direction from the Board. R. Whyland asked can the Municipal Boards come up with an answer? L. Miller stated he is going to try with his Board; R. Whyland confirmed that he and B. Hilt will try with the Spring Grove Council; M. Bollinger stated that Heidelberg can talk about reductions, but their residents are not saying they want reductions.R. Whyland asked R. Shearer if he can come back with a recommendation from his Municipal Board- instead of having the Chief attend their meeting and discuss it there? R. Shearer stated that he will not meet with the Chief one-on-one again. R. Whyland explained he is not asking him to do that, he is asking if the NCT Board can give specifics of what they want? R. Shearer stated they can obtain a reduction in cost of $350,000 for 150 hours a week. Currently they receive 253 hours a week. Chief Bean explained that 50% of that time is spent answering calls for service. If they reduce their time by 100 hours they will basically be receiving answers to calls for service only. Traffic enforcement, walking through the schools, visiting the businesses, giving community talks are the things that the rest of the time is spent on. Most viable communities want these services; if you don’t have it you basically have the State Police.J. Rebert asked if there is a State agency that could conduct a study and give a recommendation as to how to reduce costs? Chief replied that the DCED conducted a study several years ago, and we faired very well. At this point we know what the numbers are; each community needs to decide if it’s worth paying it. J. Rebert stated that State Police aren’t free; he doesn’t understand why everybody thinks that. Each year the State Police take $300 million from the State Transportation Tax. Chief replied that the per capita cost of the State Police is $253 a year. J. Rebert stated that State Police are spread thin now; they cannot adequately cover what they have now; State Police is not the answer. Chief stated that each community needs to determine what level of service they are willing to pay for.Officer B. Goodling was recognized by Chairman Bollinger. She stated that as the President of the Police Association, she is reiterating the invitation sent in the letter by the Association. They are willing to sit down and talk with all of the municipal officials, not just the Police Board – it is an open invitation.W. LeFever stated that she thinks the survey being conducted by York College is extremely important. Officials need to know what their constituents want. She asked what the timeframe of the survey is. Chief Bean replied that the professor conducting the survey will be attending next month’s Board meeting to get input from the Board and the survey should be mailed out before April, but he has not been given an exact date.OTHER ITEMS:R. Shearer made a motion for each municipality to get recommendations from their solicitors for alternative law firms and not appoint Stock & Leader as our solicitor for 2019. R. Whyland asked if we can exclude anyone in the motion. R. Shearer explained that they would come back with several recommendations, and he thinks the municipal solicitors are better qualified to make recommendations. L. Miller asked if he has concerns over how things have been handled. R. Shearer stated that he thinks things have been handled terribly, he thinks W. Tilley has a lot ties and emotions tied up in the Department and he is not able to separate his emotions from what is right and wrong. He does not feel comfortable with the legal representation he has been providing the Board. B. Hilt asked if the rest of the Board felt this way. R. Shearer stated we need a second on the motion, and then it can be discussed. If there isn’t a second, the motion dies.   L. Miller stated he sees no harm, and seconded the motion. L. Miller stated he has concerns as well. He has served on the Manheim Township Board for 17 years, and it appears to him there is emotion involved. He is not pleased with some of the things done in Executive Session and some of the things in Walt’s letter. It scares him; emotion is expensive and there is no place for it here. W. Tilley replied he is not emotional about things, he is trying to give everyone the analysis they need in order to move forward. He stated that he represents the Department as a whole, not the individual municipalities. You are not going to see him taking a position favoring one municipality over another; you will see him taking positions that represent the Department as a whole entity; that is his role and what he has been hired to do. B. Hilt questioned who hired W. Tilley – is he working for the officers? W. Tilley explained the Police Board appoints him each year, and he works for the Department/Police Board, not the officers. He presented his analysis in public session tonight in order for everyone to see equally what the obligations are. He had the NCT Board members recuse themselves from the Executive Session last month because, in his professional opinion, it was a conflict of interest. It is an Ethics Violation if they should have recused themselves and didn’t; that’s a serious matter. He couldn’t take the risk of R. Shearer and R. Lint being engaged in an Ethics Violation, so he had them recuse themselves. Their solicitor disagrees, he is not fighting them on that; he is leaving the decision up to the State Ethics Committee. He is not emotional, he has taken the emotion out of the equation by asking a neutral party to make that decision. He is passionate about the Department, he enjoys working for the Department, he respects the work done by the Department and the officers. He has a very good relationship with the Chief, Chairman Bollinger and other members of the Board and he wants to continue to serve as their solicitor. He believes the Stock & Leader history and his history with the Board prove as an excellent resource for the Board in moving forward and working through these issues. He views himself as a resource; he is not an advocate for any one person or any one municipality. M. Bollinger stated that the Police Board has always used Stock & Leader; is this more an issue of wanting to get a second opinion from another solicitor within Stock & Leader, or a total search for a different solicitor and law firm? R. Shearer replied that that was his motion. B. Hilt stated that in an effort to repair things with a municipality that is unhappy she is willing to go to her Borough Council and discuss it, although she is not happy about it. L. Miller requested R. Shearer to re-state his motion. He did so, as follows: Motion for each individual municipality go to their solicitor and request recommendation/s of a law firm to represent the Police Board as a possible replacement of Stock & Leader. L. Miller stated he needed clarification as to whether the motion was to replace Stock & Leader or to get recommendations to possibly replace Stock & Leader. R. Shearer confirmed it was for recommendations to possibly replace Stock & Leader. Motion carried with (1) Nay (M. Bollinger) and (1) abstention due to a possible conflict of interest (R. Whyland).Meeting adjourned into Executive Session at 9:00 pm to discuss personnel issues, no action to be taken.
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Submitted by:

 

V. Nickell

Police Administrator