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Southern Regional Police Dept. in Lancaster Co. could disband

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CONESTOGA TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- A meeting in Lancaster County could determine whether a regional police department disbands.

The meeting will be at the Conestoga Volunteer Fire Company at 7 p.m. on Thursday.

Conestoga and Pequea Township supervisors will discuss and vote on changes to the Southern Regional Police Department Thursday night.

Community members said the supervisors plan to discuss funding for the police department. They said if the budget for the police is reduced, the department would likely have to disband.

But the Lancaster County district attorney said this is the opposite of what should be happening.

District Attorney Craig Stedman said, "What I'd like to see is more of us coming together than breaking apart. And I think everyone is better off that way."

People who live in the area think if the department dissolves, the townships would rely on a part-time police force and state police.

"It's going to be hard for victims to talk to one officer and then the other officer. It's just not ideal," Stedman said.

This could also mean a longer response time to calls, which has some people worried.

Jeromey Barnes, who lives in Conestoga Township, said, "They're quick to respond any time you ask for them to show up, and if we got rid of them, we would have to call the state cops which would probably be an outrageous amount of time before hey got here."

Others think the disbandment wouldn't be a problem.

Ed Deller, a resident of Pequea Township, said, "It's kind of a quiet neighborhood. We really don't have a lot of issues with crime so I haven't personally had much experience with the police."

But Stedman said the purpose of government should be to provide public safety, and he thinks disbanding the department would be more harmful than helpful.

He said, "Nothing else matters if you're not providing public safety to the residents. You can talk about all you want about zoning, about the school board, about the way the roads are built or anything. Nobody cares if you're not safe."