Many residents feel this decision has been made behind closed doors even though officials with the Township said no one should be surprised.
Randy Senft has lived in North Codorus Township his whole life and says the Southwestern Regional Police Department has always been there when he's needed them.
“I like the police here in the Township we have,” Senft said. “If we call somebody out to get somebody else out it’s going to take them a while to get here.”
The Township recently made the decision to separate from the police department, citing "fiscal responsibility" issues. Township Manager Sharon Kerchner would not go on camera, but said they have a problem paying just below 49% of the Department's $2,153,177 proposed 2019 budget. The Southwestern Regional Police Department serves 18 thousand residents among the four municipalities they patrol. About half of them live in North Codorus Township. The Chief said they also get half of their time.
“We look at how others do it,” Chief Gregory Bean said. “We have 0.8 officers per thousand residents. So we compare that to other police agencies and I can say that based on that information, we’re one of the very thinnest police departments in the County and the State when it comes to how many officers we employ."
The Township argued that even with their higher population, the crime rate isn't as high. Still, residents want to keep their presence.
“There’s other things besides crime here you have to worry about,” Jim Zydel, a resident of the Township, said. “You have drunk drivers, a lot of trucks lately coming up and down this street. Even though there’s not crime, they still need to be here.”
Kerchner said the Township has crunched the numbers based on call volume last year, they believe they only need about 160-170 hours of service per week, as opposed to the 253 hours they're currently paying for. She said it would save the Township about $369,000 a year and still continue to have police services, while using that extra money for other emergency services, or even a tax cut.
“I look at it from the residents perspective and I don’t know that I’d want to be a resident with that thin level of protection,” Chief Bean said. “Again people are paying nearly over $100 per year per resident now, based on a lot of other expenses that we all get, that’s a pretty reasonable amount in my opinion. We want to keep it that way. We work very hard to keep it very reasonable over the years.”
The Township said they haven't determined what their other options are for policing, but they will continue to provide police services to Township residents. Their monthly meeting is Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Township building. The chief said if the Township decides to move forward and withdraw from them, their services would end at the beginning of 2020.