OK regionalization of the old township of Lycoming | News, Sports, Jobs
After a lengthy and contentious special meeting on Wednesday, the former Lycoming Township’s board of supervisors voted to approve its resolutions for police regionalization.
David Kay and Linda Mazzullo voted yes. David W. Shirn voted no.
Public comments ranged from outright opposition, to hesitation, to mild support for the Lycoming Regional Police Department. Many in the crowd expressed concern over the plan.
People have expressed frustration that Old Lycoming Township’s financial liability will be the highest of any founding member at 51%.
Founding members will also share assets with a stipulation that any department that leaves before 6 years loses what they contribute. There were also questions about whether or not there was enough evidence that the move would save money.
Supervisors Mazzullo, Kay and police representatives explained that the cost was related to population and higher call volumes which would correspond to areas of greater financial liability.
“These little townships don’t own the assets that we do either,” said Mazzullo. She explained that contributions from smaller townships to the overall cost breakdown would pay for those assets and enable lower costs for all.
Residents have called for a referendum on the issue or for further studies to be conducted. Many walked out when they realized the vote would go ahead as advertised.
Leaders and members of both police departments were there to address the large crowd on why they want to regionalize.
Regionalization talks began in 2019, slowly evolving into more formal plans and studies since then. Results and data from this period were included in Tuesday’s in-depth presentation.
“There were some initial deal breakers towards regionalization that we established early on,” Tiadaghton Valley Regional Police Chief Nathan DeRemer. DeRemer is also the acting chief of police for the former township of Lycoming.
“We knew we had to provide the same level of service for less money…or the same amount of money,” said DeRemer. “And we knew we wanted a station in both places.”
According to the plan, these two conditions are met with an overall cost saving, according to the presentation.
There will be occupied physical locations on both Jersey Shore and Old Lycoming Township. While agents in these locations can assist each other on larger calls, the departments will generally respond to incidents closest to them, eliminating the worry that the two locations are too far apart. , DeRemer said.
The benefit of regionalization for law enforcement is the ability to become a larger department and share resources, according to the presentation.
“That’s regionalization”, said DeRemer. “It’s about managing your resources based on where you need them most to maximize coverage.”
By regionalizing, the pressure on understaffed and overstretched departments is alleviated, DeRemer said.
The presentation included a list of more than 60 jobs that officers and sergeants are responsible for on a daily basis. “And There’s More Than That” said DeRemer.
By dividing up those responsibilities, the regionalized department will be able to have officers dedicated to specialized units, including criminal investigations, K9, search and rescue, school resources and more, police said.
“The complexity of crime these days is ridiculous,” said DeRemer. “We’re asking the patrol boats to do too much and having these specialized units will make our operation much better.”
Speaking on behalf of the Old Lycoming Township Department, Officer Michael Engel made it clear that his department was down, citing a lack of patrol supervision, training opportunities and officer morale due to the lack of of staff.
Engel referred to the group Concerned Citizens for Old Lycoming Township, which strongly opposed the regionalization plan.
“This is a group of retired police officers and civil servants”, said Engel. “But that’s not the job they left many years ago.” Engel said crime has evolved in the township from impaired driving to more violent crime, often drug-related.
Neighboring townships Hepburn and Loyalsock support regionalization and plan to explore other options if it does not pass.
Letters read from each township confirmed they would not be renewing contracts with Old Lycoming Township Police as the cost rose from $58,000 to $261,000, according to the letters.
“That would mean we had to raise taxes by almost 3 million euros, and that was not going to happen,” Heath Heller, Hepburn Township Supervisor, said.
There are two options if regionalization fails, former Lycoming Township Police Sgt. said Robert Cochran.
With the loss of revenue from adjacent townships, the township would have to eliminate positions, raise taxes, or both.
“There’s no way we can provide the same service we provide now if we don’t,” said Cochran. “What calls are you willing to drop?”
Also present were Sergeant TVRP. Michael Crawford, Officer Tyler Bierly and Jersey Shore City Council President Sean Simcox.
“Ask yourself: ‘Do I trust the agents in my community? If so, why wouldn’t I support something that all officers support? ” “
Shirn, the opposing supervisor, said he did not know where the increase in the contract price of more than $200,000 for the townships of Hepburn and Lycoming came from.
“We never asked them to pay for that,” he said. “I changed my mind about it because I found out about some things that happened behind my back and I lost faith in that.