Funding issues leads to changes for Southern Regional Police in Lancaster Co.

CONESTOGA TOWNSHIP, LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. -- Same name. Different terms.

Southern Regional Police Department in Lancaster County currently serves both Conestoga and Pequea Townships. However, Pequea Township is expected to take control of the department's operations in 2018.

Cynthia Evans-Herr, the vice chair for the Pequea Township Board of Supervisors, said, "It was on the radar years ago, and it just unfortunately had to go through some nasty business to get to this point last year to get to the heart of the matter that it's funding."

Pequea Township pays more than $550,000 for 2017 police services, whereas Conestoga Township pays around $350,000.

Craig Eshleman, chairman for the Conestoga Township Board of Supervisors, said, "It got to the point where Pequea seemed to be getting more calls, and Conestoga supervisors decided we were paying a larger percentage of our budget than we wanted to for police protection. And we were trying to look for ways to get that reduced."

Now the two townships have reached an agreement to dissolve the regional police commission. This means Pequea Township will be contracting police services out to Conestoga Township.

Eshleman said there may be some changes for people living in Conestoga Township.

"Obviously with the budget cuts, they'll see less patrol. Hopefully the 24/7 response will still be readily available so that's our goal at this point," he said.

The new police chief for Southern Regional, John Michener, said it's up to the townships as to what kind of service they want and what they want to pay for.

Michener said, "Whatever the elected officials decide, we'll certainly do everything we can to provide the best services we can with the resources they give us."

Both Conestoga and Pequea Township supervisors said they came to the agreement amiably.

The police department will still retain its name, logo, and for now, its location in Conestoga Township.

Evans-Herr said, "Right now where are we going to put it in the future. Right now we're going to continue to use the police department here and we're looking for a place to bring the headquarters into Pequea Township."

Township officials hope to have all the details worked out in a negotiated contract by the end of the summer.