|Members of Bath's police advisory board|
address CRPD Comm'n
Borough officials continue to insist that no decision has been made. But Borough Manager Brad Flynn's Budget Message from October makes clear that a mere five percent increase was so devastating that there would be discussions about the Bath's continued participation in CRPD.
Martin Boucher, a soft-spoken Lower Nazareth Tp Supervisor, chairs the CRPD Commission, which provides civilian oversight over this regional force. John Diacogiannis, from Hanover Tp, and Fiorella Mirabito, from Bath, are the other voting members. After getting the police business out of the way, Boucher opened up the floor to public comment.
CRPD Commission Absence at Town Hall. - It appears that members of the police advisory commission, along with Mayor Fiorella Mirabito, were bothered that the CRPD was absent from Saturday's Town Hall. Diacogiannis explained that he thought the Town Hall was for residents of Bath to register their concerns. That's certainly how it was presented on Bath's Facebook page. It was billed as a meeting for residents and business owners about the future of police service in Bath, hosted by the Bath Borough administration. In fact there was an attempt to prevent CRPD officers from speaking for that very reason. Boucher explained he was working on Saturday.
There's another reason why Commission members would be wise to stay away. Had they gone to that meeting and participated in discussions concerning Bath's future with CRPD, they would be deliberating about matters on which they will be taking official action. They would be conducting a public meeting without advertising and without anyone to take minutes for them. It would be a clear violation of the Sunshine Act.
Can This be Worked Out? - Diacogiannis explained that the Commission is there for each respective municipality, and that it is up to each participant. But speaking for himself, he said, "You got a problem. Police are only one component of it." He noted complaints that 23% of Bath's budget goes for police protection, but noted that 29% of Hanover's budget pays for police. "We view police as a public safety issue. It's our responsibility as a government to provide for that."
Is Lower Nazareth going to bolt, too? - Eric Nagle has been singing that tune for several years in Lower Nazareth, and has used the situation in Bath to rekindle the issue there. But Boucher put out that fire. "A majority of our board doesn't feel that way," he said. "We're very pleased with Colonial Regional."
Is CRPD Willing to Provide Contracted Services? - This question came both from a police advisory commission member and from Mayor Fiorella Mirabito, who tried to insist again that no decision has been made until I turned on my tape recorder. It's pretty clear that Bath wants CRPB, like Moore Tp, to provide a proposal for contracted services even though no guidance about what is sought has been provided. Basically, Bath wants CRPD to compete against itself, and Chief Roy Seiple said he's prepare a proposal if he was given some guidance.
Some Police Advisory Comm's members support CRPD - Tara Berger, a registered nurse at St.Luke's, and spelled her name out for me. She said she jumped at the opportunity to be part of the advisory commission. "Initially, I thought, why fix the roads?" she asked. "Because who's going to want to drive into a town that's not protected by you guys?" She added that "any rumors, any blogs or articles, it's so sad for me to think that we are questioning what they do for us." She expressed concern about an "ever-growing transient element." She also said that she represents a large part of her neighborhood "because I knocked on doors and I talked to them, and they don't want to leave you."
Tara might wish to tell those neighbors that CRPD officers were prevented from responding to what was essentially a hit job in the "informational packet" prepared by Borough Manager Bradford Flynn, which is full of inaccuracies. As one of them told her last night, "I felt we were personally disrespected." Officers intend to set the record straight at the next Borough Council meeting on June 5.