Southern Regional Police officers could lose jobs with potential budget cut

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CONESTOGA TWP., Pa. -- A Lancaster County police force could see a major change in the number of officers in their department.

Conestoga Township supervisors may cut the budget for Southern Regional Police. Tuesday night at a meeting they decided to set a minimum budget of $350,000 for the department that could cost some officers their jobs.

That budget would lead to a possible $100,000 budget cut from last year, which means they might have to lose police officers.

Jesse Blank, a Southern Regional Police patrolman said, "One-hundred thousand dollars is a patrolman. Plus a patrolman and a half or something. So it might be a part-time patrolman we have to hire to fill those vacancies."

State police would have to cover certain hours of the day to help with the fewer regional officers.

Police said this hasn't happened in the past 13 years.

Some people in the community want the budget for the police to stay the same, and they are concerned for their safety.

Mark Mitchell, who lives in the township, said, "Before we had the police department, it took a long time to get to accident scenes and stuff and I would like to have 24-hour coverage."

Others said supervisors need to focus more on repairing roads.

William Rankin, a business owner in the township, said, "I've lived here all my life and I don't want to see us lose police, but I also know that there are other things in the township that have to be addressed."

But police said whatever happens, they are here for the community.

Blank said, "There's a lot of residents that are very pro-police and we've felt that obviously in the wake of everything going on right now. So we do feel love from the community, we do feel needed here and people are very vocal about if."

Supervisors said they need to make a decision about the budget by December.

Pequea Township, which also uses Southern Regional Police, still wants to keep their budget for the police the same. That would mean police would fully cover Pequea Township even even if Conestoga doesn't have enough money in their budget.