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Swatara Township cuts ties with Lawnton Fire Company following harassment investigation

SWATARA TOWNSHIP, DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. - Following a two-month investigation into racial slurs, harassment and bullying among members of the Lawnton Fire Company, Swatara Township officials decide to cut all ties.

"That kind of behavior is not tolerated," said Tom Connolly, Swatara Township commissioner.

However, not everyone agrees getting rid of the fire company all together was the right thing to do.

"I think they should have maybe, if it was a few bad apples in the bunch, just get rid of them," said Marlyn Mott Jr., who lives near the fire company. "Rather than getting rid of the whole kit and caboodle."

Mott says he's always had peace of mind knowing if there ever was an emergency, response times were almost immediate. Now, he'll have to rely on other fire companies in the township to respond, which he believes will increase response times. However, township officials say that's not the case.

"They may have had enough people to have enough banter that was inappropriate or offend one another," said Connolly. "But we were concerned about fire protection for the township and they weren’t at the level.”

Now moving forward, Swatara Township Fire Chief Mike Ibberson is focusing on making sure all policies are clear and up-to-date. Out of the 10 volunteer firefighters, two are no longer allowed to be emergency responders in the township and others have been to different fire companies.

The investigating committee on this incident was made up of a retired law enforcement officer, a retired criminal investigator, an attorney, and Chief Ibberson.