SWATARA TOWNSHIP, DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. - Allegations of harassment and bullying led to the suspension of a local fire company. Now, the Lawnton Fire Company is under investigation. Swatara Township officials are taking these allegations very seriously and through the investigation want to send a message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated.
The claims of racial slurs, harassment and bullying were brought to the Swatara Township Fire and Emergency Services Department in May, and were alleged to have happened between the end of last year and the beginning of this year. On May 31st, 2018 with approval by the Swatara Township Commissioners, the fire company was suspended and an investigation into the allegations was launched.
“We just want to get this resolved, investigate what happened, make sure it doesn’t happen again" said Tom Connolly, president of the Swatara Township Commissioners. "We don’t want people to feel un-welcomed.”
While the fire company is suspended, four other volunteer fire companies in the township are responding to calls in Lawnton's jurisdiction. Township officials say there's been no negative impact to emergency service requests in the township and response times to alarms have not be delayed.
“We haven’t missed a beat as far as providing fire protection for our citizens, travelers through the interstates and the businesses in our community," said Connolly.
Regardless of the finding of this investigation, Swatara Township Fire Chief Michael Ibberson says moving forward changes will be made focusing on better training of policis, procedures and how to deal with these types of situations when they do happen.
“We’re gonna come down to the table and ensure that this does not happen ever again within this township," said Ibberson.
The investigation is expected to be completed very soon. From there the board of commissioners will decide the next step of action.