Monday, June 26, 2017
Why Colonial Regional Police Are Worth It
Decades of fiscal mismanagement from leaders that once included a Mayor who pleaded guilty to stealing from her local church, are being blamed on the men (and women) in blue. Flynn prepared an "informational" packet that was distributed at a Saturday morning town hall, slamming police coverage. Officers were prevented from speaking and were told they could make their case at the next Borough Council meeting. They did so, and were politely ignored. No questions. Not even a "Thank you for your service." At least Borough Council President Mark Saginario opted against open carrying, something he did when AFSCME once appeared at a meeting.
I have requested Colonial Regional to supply me with their response to Bath's "informational" packet.
Here are the points they make.
Bath Compared to Six LV Boroughs
Each of these boroughs has its own dedicated police department, small in size, and staffed by a few full-time and part-time officers. Bath is part of a regional department that has no part time officers. Bath pays the highest salary is not accurate. When compared to similar other boroughs in the Lehigh Valley, Bath is paying a comparable cost to all other departments,but is getting an accredited police department . Bath spends 22% of its budget for police services at $413,536,the second lowest rate for the boroughs listed above.
Cost per officer
Bath pays its portion of the police budget (12%) for the entire department, which includes 25 sworn officers and 2 civilian positions. Bath’s portion of the total police department budget is around 12%.Bath falls far below the average of the compared boroughs at $153/resident. The average is $200/resident. The attempt to compare specific salaries is impossible because many municipalities rely heavily on part-time officers.
Bath officials attempted to downplay the severity if crime. That is a mistake. In 2016, there were 141 reportable offenses. These include manslaughter (1), rape (1), burglary (12), theft (44), vehicle theft (2), Forgery/Fraud (15), vandalism (20), Arson (1), Drugs – Sales/Manufacturing (2), Drugs – Possession (16),
Alcohol – DUI (16) and Alcohol – Drunkenness (5).
For the municipalities cited above, Bath has far more reportable crime than any of them. Alburtis, for example, reported only 27 offenses, about 1/20 what was reported in Bath.
Motor Carrier Enforcement
Unlike most small departments, Colonial Regional actually does have a certified motor carrier officer. The other 24 officers have cited dozens of trucks for a variety of other moving violations that are not documented as motor carrier enforcement incidents. An example is when the Mayor reached out to Colonial about speeding dump trucks on Main St. Several trucks operators were cited for speeding. There a have also been dozens of weight violation citations.
Drug Task Force
The Northampton County Drug Task Force is a county run program. It is not funded in any way by Bath. So any drug task force time accounted in Bath or anywhere else in the county is paid for by the county. Between 2012-2016, Colonial seized $55,709 and a total of 7 vehicles. Colonial believes it has been very proactive in addressing the drug issues in the borough.
Flynn's "informational" packet slammed Colonial for failing to issue tickets for parking and other ordinance violations. Reviewing only the parking tickets issued from 2010-2015, Colonial issued 916 parking tickets in Bath.
26 million kids nationwide in 75% of school districts across the country have a DARE program. The last page of the Informational Packet cited outdated studies that implied the current DARE program is ineffective. The Time Magazine study and others conducted in the late 90’s were correct in finding little to no benefit of the DARE program. In the early 2000s the entire program curriculum was re-evaluated and new techniques and methods were implemented to better suit the needs of school age children and adolescents. For understanding, Officer Kovach is teaching the new version of the DARE curriculum at George Wolf and Sacred Heart Elementary Schools. A more recent and relevant study, an independent randomized control sample evaluation of the D.A.R.E. Primary program was carried out in 2015/2016 using a sample of over 50 schools and 1500 young people. The evaluation was carried out by Nottingham Trent University's Professor Andromachi Tseloni and showed that the program had a significantly statistic effect on:
• Increasing knowledge surrounding drugs, alcohol and substance abuse
• Making safe and responsible choices
• Communication and listening
• Getting help from others
Colonial offers the DARE program is offered because the Northampton Area School District requests it. George Wolf and Sacred Heart Elementary are the two schools in Colonial's jurisdiction that continue to support and request the DARE program.
Bath’s main use of Bike Patrol is during special events like the Halloween Parade. Each year at least 3 bicycle officers patrol the route along with several other officers positioned through the downtown area both on foot and in vehicles.
Shop with a Cop
-The sole purpose of this annual event is to give under privileged kids a Christmas. The meals for the kids are donated by the restaurants and all the money that each kid gets to shop with is donated by the community. For the past 11 years Colonial has hosted this event and provided a fun filled day for over 100 kids from all over the Greater Bath-Nazareth area. Eighty percent are from Bath.