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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Will Colonial Regional Police Remain Regional?

(The Colonial Region Police Commission includes, standing, from left to right, Mark Saginario (Bath), Bob Fields (Bath), Jim Pennington (L. Nazareth), and Eric Nagle (L. Nazareth). Seated, from left to right, are Chairman Glenn Walbert (Hanover) and John Diacogiannis (Hanover).

At a time when regionalized police forces are becoming more common, Lower Nazareth Supervisors are having second thoughts about their participation in the Colonial Region Police Department. They like the service, but not the cost. They've already rejected a $3.39 million police budget proposed for next year. This operates as a notice of intent to withdraw in a year if the problems remain unresolved. Whether that occurs was the topic of a police commission meeting on December 12, attended by several officers concerned about their livelihoods.

The sticking point? This budget calls for a $1,122,450 contribution from Lower Nazareth, which is $44,481 more than this year.

This six-member board includes two members from Bath Borough as well as Lower Nazareth and Hanover Townships. Chaired by Glenn Walbert, they provide the oversight for a 25-man force that has existed since 1995. Commission member Eric Nagle, who chairs the Lower Nazareth Board, explained that his Township wants "to go through an analysis to look at alternatives." He added, "We're backed into a 5% increase every year." While expressing admiration for the officers on the force, Nagle stated flatly, "We're not going to increase taxes to pay for police services," complaining that Lower Nazareth's additional revenue is eaten up by increased police costs. He also objected to Chief Roy Seiple's plan to expand the force gradually to 30 police officers.

Nagle reasoned that a regionalized force should be more efficient. "The question is, is it still effective? That's what we need to analyze."

Nagle's concerns were echoed by Jim Pennington, another Lower Nazareth Supervisor doing double duty on the police commission. He suggested that the police department should consider employing part-time police officers or "public safety officers" for minimal duties like traffic control.

"We have to be creative when we come up with budgets," argued Pennington.

Both Pennington and Nagle agreed that Lower Nazareth has experienced an surge in police activity. That appears to be related to the Wal Mart, Kohls and Wegmans on Route 248. Chief Seiple pointed out that 13 of the 20 arrests in Lower Nazareth in November were for shoplifting at those stores.

With the shoplifting comes counterfeiting. Seiple said his officers broke up a Reading-based counterfeiting ring that was passing $100 bills at these stores.

Police board Chair Glenn Walbert, who serves on Hanover's Board of Supervisors, noted that Lower Nazareth did approve a budget that continued to fund of the Colonial Region Police Department at its 2013 level. He suggested reducing the police department's budget to the 2013 level, which could be accomplished by delaying the hire of a new police officer by four months.

Walbert told Nagle the commission is open to discussions with Lower Nazareth.

Nagle promised to take the proposal back to his board and get an answer in early January.

Seiple asked Nagle to request an answer from Lower Nazareth Supervisors as soon as is convenient, "so we don't keep officers in suspense for six months." Seiple warned, "We got these guys sitting here, and they're going to start looking for jobs."

Chief Seiple proposed doubling the storage fee for impounded vehicles, from $15 to $30 per day. That suggestion passed unanimously.

He also told the Commission that Wal Mart and Wegmans, when requesting police coverage, is billed $67 per hour for each officer.

Finally, he filled the Commission in on a recent prostitution sting at a local hotel that netted seven Johns.

"None that you know," he added.


Anonymous said...

this police dept. is just full of attitude. who needs them.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Its attitude is professional. If that bothers you, that says something about you.

Nagle, who appears to be the driving force in LN, went out of his way to say his concerns had nothing to do with the officers. It is just the cost.

I doubt LNT could operate as well and at the same cost with its own force, but my guess is he wants to run the numbers.

There is also an intangible that Nagle needs to consider. He can look at Nazareth, Plainfield, Bangor, Hellertown, Wind Gap, etc., for examples. Municipalities with their own forces are going to have all the drama associated with it. It is not really a good deal to get involved in these little wars. A regional force removes the drama. To me, that is worth a lot of money, and saves costs for municipal government in intangible ways.

Anonymous said...

Caption for photo: "Let's go boys, time to go pick da taters..."

Bernie O'Hare said...

It is a big mistake to judge someone by the clothing he wears or the color of his skin.

I come onto contact with city council people, borough council members and township supervisors. The people in boroughs are there bc they love their communities. Township Supervisors are much the same, and tend to be very bright people. City councils are more urbane, but if they are more intelligent, I haven't noticed.

Anonymous said...

Obviously they haven't been to any Bedlam meetings. Those people come off as neither intelligent or urbane.

Got to feel bad for Bobby Donchez. He has an entire tribe of Callahan clones that will make his life hell. They are all their to help Wee Willie become Mayor in four years.

Anonymous said...

Regional police is a fad and thing of the past. The fifedoms want control. Just look at Upper Macungie and you will see how that township dismantled the Berks Lehigh Regional Department all in the name of local control. The same will probably happen with Colonial with Lower Nazareth starting its own Department.

Bernie O'Hare said...

If it's a fad, how can it be a thing of the past?

Anonymous said...

If we could end the State police freeloading by townships, we could get better local law enforcement.

Anonymous said...

Why should I have to pay taxes for the state police to cover townships that don't have police protection? You hit the nail on the head a few days ago when you reported we should be looking at a County wide police force.

Anonymous said...

Free Greggy!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Tricia Mezzacappa is on her usual tear, except now she does not identify herself.

Anonymous said...

With all the thieves that WallsMart and Kohl's attract, Lower Nazareth will have a demand for police services, whether they stay regional or do it themselves.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe Lower Nazareth is considering abandoning Colonial for state police coverage. I may be wrong, but I think the issue is that they don't feel they have any say in controlling the costs of the department. I don't think anyone on that commission has any balls to keep Buzzy in check!