SOUTHWESTERN REGIONAL POLICE BOARD
December 12, 2018 – 7:00 PM
Meeting called to order by Chairman M. Bollinger at 7:00 pm. The following were in attendance:
- Shearer, R. Lint – N. Codorus Twp.
- Bollinger, T. Frock – Heidelberg Twp.
- Miller, S. Stambaugh – Manheim Twp.
- Hilt, R. Whyland – Spring Grove Borough
- Bean – Chief of Police
- Nickell – Police Administrator
- Tilley – Solicitor
PUBLIC COMMENT: W. LeFever, a resident of North Codorus Township (NCT), asked if any progress has been made that will allow the NCT supervisors to represent the majority of the NCT residents and stay with Southwestern Regional Police. M. Bollinger replied that there is a lot going on behind the scenes. Some of the Police Board members met with some of the police officers this evening; the Board will be hearing some ideas from the Chief to cut costs; there is movement forward to try to get some reconciliation. L. Miller asked W. LeFever how she knows she represents the wants of the majority of the NCT residents. She replied that she has spoken with hundreds of residents, and the great majority wants to stay with the police department. She realizes there are individuals that do not want to stay. J. Rebert, a resident of NCT, stated that he went on the police department’s website and saw the minutes for August and September, but not October. Also, the financial reports were not on the website at all and he could not find the Chiefs Notes or the calls for service. Chief Bean stated that the company that used to maintain our website no longer offers that service so we had to totally revamp the website using another company and the October minutes and the crime stats just haven’t been posted yet. We have been working with the new company for (4) months, and he expects everything to be up-to-date within the next 30 days. V. Nickell stated that when the Board voted to start posting the minutes on the website the approval was for the minutes only, not the financial reports or the Chief’s Notes. J. Rebert asked if he could obtain the financial reports if he submitted a Right-To-Know request; V. Nickell replied yes. J. Rebert asked how many vehicles the department has; Chief replied (9) – (7) patrol vehicles, (1) Chief vehicle, (1) Detective vehicle. J. Rebert stated that years ago there was a Reserve Fund started that was 10% of the budget, where is that listed on the budget? V. Nickell replied that it is not a line item on the budget; it is a separate bank account that is listed in the Treasurer’s Report. He then asked if we utilize that bank account to pay bills. V. Nickell replied that there are times when funds are transferred on a temporary basis until the quarterly payments come in from the municipalities. The Board is informed at the board meeting when this occurs, and it is reported in the Treasurer’s Report. The funds are put back into the Reserve Fund as soon as all the quarterly payments have been received. He then asked if the “Letter of Agreement” was still in effect between the municipalities that the Police Board would approve transfers before funds were used out of the Reserve Fund. V. Nickell replied that years ago the Board passed a motion allowing the Chief to approve temporary transfers, with the Board being informed at the following Board meeting. This was done due to the need to be able to make timely transfers when funds are needed at the end of the quarter. He then asked about the traffic enforcement, he saw a lot of disparity between the municipalities last month. Chief Bean explained that NCT was 150 hours short, and to make up the time the officers concentrate patrol time to make up the hours, resulting in more tickets and warnings. Heidelberg was over in hours, so they have less time committed to patrol, resulting in less traffic enforcement. J. Rebert stated he had some other concerns regarding NCT being shorted on time, but he did not want to take the time during the meeting to continue discussing it; he was satisfied with the Chief’s explanation.
MINUTES: Review of the minutes of November 14, 2018. Motion by L. Miller, second by B. Whyland to approve the minutes as presented. Motion carried unanimously.
TREASURER’S REPORT: (Attachment A) Treasurer’s Report was presented. R. Shearer stated that we are now tracking the legal fees for the withdrawal of NCT, and we show $1,564 for last month. The regular legal fees are listed at $195; he doesn’t remember an invoice ever being that low before. There was an extended discussion about this invoice, with the following points being made:
- In researching the history of our legal fees for 2018, R. Shearer found that they range from $800 – $4800.
- W. Tilley explained that the only regular charge for last month was attending the Board meeting and reviewing the documents for said meeting; the rest of his time was spent on researching the NCT withdrawal.
- The invoices are paid before the Police Board gets to see or approve them.
- R. Shearer asked why there is a separate line item for the NCT withdrawal. W. Tilley explained that you need to keep track of these expenses in accordance with the Articles of Agreement. In an effort to be transparent, he had spoken with V. Nickell and decided to create a separate line item.
- W. Tilley stated that he has completed most of his work on the NCT withdrawal, so he thinks that will probably be the highest invoice we will have.
- R. Shearer doesn’t think it was appropriate for W. Tilley to decide to make a separate line item for this expense; it should have been brought before the Board.
- R. Shearer stated that the March invoice for $4800 listed work done on research of a municipality withdrawing – at that time he asked who had requested that research, as he doesn’t believe anyone on the Board had requested it. It is his understanding that when a solicitor does something that costs the Board money the Board should agree on what was done, especially when the legal budget is currently at 176% for 2018.
- W. Tilley stated that he was given (4) tasks to complete by the Police Board, of which he completed (3); the legal fees for October include this work.
- The hourly fee for attending the meetings is $195. The October invoice is for a total of (1) hour charged to regular legal fees due to the fact that most of the meeting was in Executive Session to discuss the NCT withdrawal. He doesn’t think the items discussed in public session were charged to the NCT withdrawal.
- R. Shearer stated he is going to listen to the minutes and see how long the public meeting was. V. Nickell stated that the invoice charged .20 hours to review documents for the Board meeting and .80 hours to attend the meeting.
- R. Shearer stated that the Board approves the bills after they are paid; they are just “rubber-stamping” them. W. Tilley stated that if there is a dispute over a paid invoice a credit can be issued.
Motion by R. Whyland, second by L. Miller to approve the Treasurer’s report as presented. Motion passed unanimously.
Chief stated there were 336 calls for service in November; year-to-date 3,800. We average around 4,000 and may be a little higher than that this year. There were 214 traffic stops and 36 criminal charges were filed on 21 offenders. There weren’t any questions regarding the crime stats.
Chief introduced Dr. Kirsten Witherup, the professor from York College who is in charge of conducting the resident survey. Chief explained that he had reached out to York College in the spring of 2018. He felt the department has been doing really well, and it was time to see what the community’s opinion was. York College conducted a survey for us once before, several years ago. A copy of the proposed survey was e-mailed to the Police Board members a couple of weeks ago.
Dr. Witherup explained the following:
- York College has conducted similar surveys for Spring Garden Township and West York Borough police departments.
- The proposed survey includes a cover letter and (4) pages of questions.
- The survey includes both close-ended and open-ended responses, which they believe will be valuable for the type of feedback we are attempting to obtain.
- The first section addresses demographics, giving an understanding of who the responders are.
- Section two looks at community safety. Responders rate community safety issues on a scale of 1-5. These types of questions are throughout the survey, essential to aggregating the number count and having a numerical statistic to provide with regard to community feedback. There are also some open-ended responses – i.e., what can the department do to make them feel safer? This type of question gives a more textured understanding of how the community feels and what they want.
- Section 3 explores topics of police professionalism and areas for improvement.
- Section 4 addresses resident interaction with the Department and satisfaction with said interaction.
- Previous experience has proven that it would be unreasonable to send the survey to all 18,000 residents of our municipalities. You need a representative random sample of the population. For example, the National Crime Victimization (NCV) survey uses a subset of the population and generalizes it back to the population of the United States using a random sampling. Everyone has an equal and known chance of being selected to participate in the NCV survey, and they use a rotating design of households. They survey 60,000 households of the more than 300 million people living in the United States.
- We want to survey a subset of our population to say that if anybody in the population were given this survey they would answer in a similar fashion. In calculating the sample size, they will need to send out 1500 surveys to get 377 (25%) responses back. This allows them to look at a margin of error +/- 5%. She thinks this will be a good way to reach our residents and get the feedback we are looking for.
- If we do not get 377 responses the feedback will still be valuable; this is why the survey includes the open-ended responses.
- The Board had the following questions:
- R. Whyland asked her to expand on how the feedback will be valuable if we don’t get the 377 responses. Dr. Witherup said the margin of error would be 6-7 % instead of 5%; it wouldn’t have as much statistical power, but would still be statistically valid.
- R. Whyland asked how significant the Part 1 (demographic) questions are. Dr. Witherup stated these are important so that when the findings are reported back to us we know the demographics of the population surveyed. He then asked if we know what the demographics of the population are today. Dr. Witherup stated she would get that information from Chief Bean; then she would be able to ascertain how closely the subset of the population surveyed matches it.
- L Miller stated he appreciates the effort behind the survey, but in Manheim Township it won’t do any good. They do not question whether the department is doing a good job; the question is whether the service provided is worth the cost. He doesn’t see any questions that address that. Dr. Witherup referred to the last full paragraph on page 1 of the survey, it states the average cost per person per year ($113), so they do get a picture of what they are paying. She then asked if Manheim Township would like to see more questions regarding cost. L. Miller replied that there is a lot more that he would like to see on the survey; it currently does not represent the concerns of the Manheim Township residents. Dr. Witherup stated that the survey can be changed, and encouraged the Board members to contact her, providing her e-mail address to them. L. Miller stated his Board would discuss the survey at the next Manheim Township meeting and send her feedback regarding changes and/or additions they would like to have made.Chief explained that donated funds will be used to pay for mailing the surveys out. Dr. Witherup stated that recipients of the survey are asked to fill them out and send them back within two weeks. Her colleague, Dr. Verrecchia, herself, and a team of student researchers will then enter all the information into a database from which they will compile a report, which she can come back to the Board and present. She expects to have the results by the end of April. L. Miller asked how the 1500 mailings will be divided up amongst the municipalities. Chief replied that it would be by the percentage of the budget they pay, i.e., 48% of the 1500 would go to NCT residents. He obtained a computer listing of all the property owners in our municipalities from the County. In order to know the percentage of surveys returned from each municipality, one of the questions on the survey needs to be “which municipality do you reside in?”. R. Shearer asked if renters would be included – no, only the addresses of the property owners were provided. L. Riebling, Manager of Manheim Township, asked if the 1500 addresses will be manually pulled from the list provided by the County. Chief replied that the addresses were already randomly pulled by the computer. R. Whyland expressed concern that those renting would not be included, as this is an important demographic and should be included in the mailing. Chief stated that he needs to confer with Dr. Witherup and make sure they aren’t sent to property owners that are not actually living in our jurisdiction. R. Lint asked if the survey was being conducted because of the withdrawal of NCT; he agreed with L. Miller, the survey does not address the reason NCT is withdrawing. Chief replied no, he started planning it back in March. R. Lint stated that it is important for the residents to understand that the results of the survey as presented will not convey the residents’ opinion on the issue of the cost of the police department. Chief stated that Dr. Witherup will customize the survey to whatever the Police Board wants and it can address the cost of the department. The Board will see the survey again before it is mailed out. W. LeFever encouraged the supervisors take the survey back to their board members and critique it very hard. It is an excellent opportunity to find out what their residents want and they need to make sure the questions they want answered are included.Chief’s Notes (Attachment B): The Chief’s Notes were presented as attached with the following additional comments:
- The Board will be going into Executive Session (ES) to discuss how to reduce costs. It needs to be discussed in ES due to the fact that the discussions will include personnel issues.
- Accidental Shooting at Santander Bank – Since the last Board meeting the officer has been criminally charged in the aforementioned. The charging documents clearly state there was no ill-will on the part of the officer. The DA has all of the information and will meet with the officer’s legal representative; they need to figure out where to go from here. Chief expects a swift resolution. Shortly after the charges were filed the Loudermill hearing was conducted and the officer was taken off administrative leave with pay and placed on administrative leave without pay.
- The Department website is still in the process of being updated. It is extremely important that as much information be available as possible.
- The Department received a $100 donation from the Hanover Exchange Club and 100 stuffed animals from PetSmart for Santa to distribute at the SG Community Center Christmas Breakfast.
- Chief transported 250 pounds of prescription drugs from the drug drop-box in the lobby to the solid waste authority for safe, proper disposal.
- Press Release – At about 11:30 on the night before Thanksgiving a resident on W. Highland Avenue in Spring Grove Borough called 9-1-1, stating there were two suspicious males walking through their yard. Officers found the suspects; one at Rutters and the other in the parking lot of Kennie’s Market. They had 35 stolen items in their backpacks, to include a handgun. Items were stolen from unlocked vehicles in the neighborhood. Chief encouraged Board Members to stress to their residents to always call 9-1-1 any time they see suspicious activity, and to always lock their vehicles.
- R. Shearer asked why the Board is discussing the cost cuts in ES and not in public. Chief stated they will be discussing personnel issues. Cost cutting methods have been discussed in public in previous months’ meetings, this is new information and involves personnel.
2019 MMO – V. Nickell had distributed information regarding the 2019 Uniform Pension MMO last month. The Board will discuss it during Executive Session and vote on the MMO after reconvening into Public Session.
Municipal Attorney Recommendations –
- L. Miller stated that he expressed his concern last month with how W. Tilley had handled some issues, and is now concerned with the fact that he did not have the Real Property Agreement. R. Whyland is the one who brought attention to this agreement and he thinks Stock & Leader should have had it on-file.
- W. Tilley explained that the Real Property Agreement is no longer a Department contract. The way the Real Property Agreement is structured, is that once the building was paid for and they received the deed (in 2007) the Department had no further involvement at all. It is an agreement the municipalities would have on-file because it is their individual obligation, not an obligation of the Department.
- When R. Whyland brought it to his attention he made sure all the Board members were aware of it. At this point, it is not a Department contract; that is why it wasn’t on his radar. He was looking for agreements where the Department would either receive some kind of benefit or have an obligation to pay something out.
- R. Whyland stated that the SGB manager, A. Shaffer, is the one who actually discovered it.
- W. Tilley stated that he went back and researched all the documentation regarding the purchase of the building, it was a fairly complicated transaction. Kinsley did the transaction in a way to minimize the tax consequences of the sale. He researched everything to make sure there was no obligation on the part of the department, and he is satisfied that there is not
- M. Muir, Manheim Township Supervisor, stated that the main reason the agreement was done this way was so the building wouldn’t have to go out for bids. That is why they leased the building for a short amount of time.
- M. Bollinger stated that this is a very relevant document, and he expressed great concern that it was not brought forward by W. Tilley last month. According to the Agreement, the remaining municipalities have ten (10) years to pay NCT back their share of the building (tentatively $480,000 + interest). Stock & Leader should have had the document in our file.
- W. Tilley explained that it was not in our active file because the departmental obligation was fulfilled in 2007 and at that time the Agreement was archived. He doesn’t think anybody keeps copies of agreements that are no longer applicable.
- R. Shearer stated that NCT has a lot of documentation that Stock & Leader doesn’t have, and they shouldn’t be surprised by some of the things that come to light if they go through with the withdrawal.
- M. Bollinger stated that if the Board decides to retain a different attorney, it will cost an estimated $10,000 – $20,000 just to get them up to speed. B. Hilt stated that she discussed this with SGB Council and they also think it will cost too much to have another attorney/law firm take over.
- R. Shearer asked when is it ever a good time to replace legal counsel. He would rather have someone come in now and get up to speed so we do not have these issues with our legal counsel in the coming year.
- M. Bollinger stated he was unable to attend the Heidelberg Township meeting. He requested N. Markle (Township Treasurer) to ask their Board at the meeting and to get back to him if they had a suggested replacement. To-date she has not gotten back to him, so he assumes they want to stay with W. Tilley.
- L. Miller stated that he posed the question to the MT solicitor. After conducting his due diligence, their solicitor stated that he does not think a replacement is needed. He also said it would be costly to replace legal counsel at this point. That being said, their solicitor also stated that if the MT Board of Supervisors has lost confidence in present legal counsel, they need to act accordingly.
- R. Whyland suggested this be tabled until the 2019 budget and cost concerns have been resolved. He agrees that it would be too expensive to hire a new attorney.
- M. Bollinger stated that W. Tilley is “on notice”, and things need to be more transparent moving forward.
- Meeting adjourned at 9:32 pm.
- Board reconvened into Public Session at 9:30 pm. Motion by R. Whyland, second by L. Miller to approve the 2019 Uniform Pension MMO with a 5% contribution from the officers.
- Meeting adjourned into Executive Session at 8:15 pm to discuss personnel issues, with action to be taken on the 2019 MMO when reconvened into Public Session.
- V. Nickell stated the department received (2) Right To Know requests from R. Shearer since the last meeting, one for the officers’ schedule and one for the audio of last month’s Police Board meeting. She wanted everyone to be aware that this information is available.
- R. Shearer asked for an explanation of the decision from the State Ethics Commission regarding NCT being recused from future Executive Sessions due to a conflict of interest. M. Bollinger replied that they did not say yes or no. With that said, he apologized for the fact they were recused from ES two meeting ago, and in future he does not see any reason why NCT cannot participate in ES when discussing the possible withdrawal. The rest of the Board agreed with this assessment.
- OTHER ITEMS:
- 2019 Animal Control Service (ACS) Contract – V. Nickell stated the ACS contract with Michelle Klugh is the same as last year, with no increase to the retainer fee ($1,225). She clarified that in addition to the retainer fee she also charges for her time and mileage when she goes out on a call. Motion by L. Miller, second by S. Stambaugh to approve the contract for ACS in 2019 from Michelle Klugh. Motion carried unanimously.
- NEW BUSINESS:
- Motion by R. Whyland, second by L. Miller to table the discussion. Motion carried unanimously.