Southern Regional Police Department future still unknown

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CONESTOGA TOWNSHIP, LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa.-- A heated meeting on Thursday in Conestoga Township as Pequea Township and Conestoga Township work together on their articles of agreement for the Southern Regional Police Department. No final decisions were made in regards to funding for the police.

"To undo what forward thinking supervisors did a number of years ago, I think is unthinkable," Conestoga Township Michael Landis said.

"We are trying to be very supportive of the police," Conestoga Township supervisor Craig Eshleman said.

People in the community said they need to find a way to keep the department.

"We are very fortunate in the community to have a good strong police department," Conestoga Township resident Drue Miler said.

Currently Pequea Township pays the majority of the cost to keep the police force going. They said they want to continue paying a minimum of about $520k. Conestoga Township pays around $443K, which is about 50% of their budget. They said they can't afford to keep paying that much. They want to set their minimum to $300K.

"We had a lot of citizen express concern half of our budget on public safety and police force and feeling the pressure to a more reasonable number," Eshleman said.

Southern Regional Police Chief John Fiorill said if there is a cut of about $140, he would have to lose 2 officers. With the loss of officers, Conestoga Township would no longer have a 24/7 service with the department. The state police would cover hours when the department isn't covering. Pequea Township would still be covered 24/7.

Landis said state police might not be able to respond as quickly.

"There might not even be a trooper near Conestoga Township," Landis said. "When they do respond, they are probably responding to an address where they don't know where they're going or where they are."

Chief Fiorill said the a cut in budget could cause safety issues for officers.

Chief Fiorill said none of the budget numbers were finalized. There is still more discussion before a budget is finalized for the police department.