New Freedom to make one more push to expand Southern Regional Police Department

NEW FREEDOM, Pa. - The Southern Regional Police Department shares a building with the Borough of New Freedom, but that would change at the end of 2018 if nothing changes.

That's because the borough voted in January to notify the department of its intent to withdraw from the police department.

But after more than a hundred community members packed a New Freedom Borough Council meeting Monday night, council members started singing a slightly different tune.

It unanimously voted to urge the police department commission one last time to either find another regional police department to merge with or find additional communities to serve, so that the department could grow its tax base and expand.

"The first resolve the financial and personnel concerns would be to merge with another existing Police Department," Dennis Sarpen, borough council president, read from a statement. "The second way would be to grow the Southern Regional Police Department such that it increases the member base, thereby providing additional funding to support additional officers."

New Freedom threatened to leave SRPD in 2017, but after the police commission adjusted its coverage formula using police protection units, the borough remained in the department.

"We have the formula worked out, cost per officer, cost per capita, is well within reasonable means for anyone in the county, and it just seems strange that they would want to pull out after we had so much work put into this whole union," said Chief James Boddington of the Southern Regional Police Department.

Leaving the department so quickly after those changes caught plenty of residents off-guard.

"They had just done all the work and gotten their terms of continuation passed and fixed all the things they identified that were wrong with the commission," said Douglas Brent, a resident leading the effort to keep the borough in SRPD. "We don't think they've given it time enough to reap the benefits of their hard work and our tax dollars and forcing these changes last year."

New Freedom has held preliminary talks with Southwestern York Regional and Northern York Regional police departments about having their departments cover the borough.

Residents became concerned once they learned that signing with one of those departments would result in only one officer covering New Freedom.

"Every single one of them wants to keep Southern Regional here, because they've done such a great job," said Randy Tattersall, a New Freedom resident. "These police officers are local, they have a vested interest in New Freedom and quite honestly, they're extremely, extremely trained and very good at what they do."

Borough officials say they will continue the discussion at their next meeting in March.