Funding of Drug Task Force questioned in East Cocalico

By on October 2, 2019

East Cocalico’s support for the Lancaster County Drug Task Force took center stage during the Sept. 19 board of supervisors meeting.

Police Chief Darrick Keppley addressed two letters he received, one from the office of Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman, and one from the office of the County Commissioners raising concerns about the task force, including a page and a half of the commissioners “railing and ripping on the District Attorney” and blaming Stedman for the task force’s woes. One issue in the commissioner’s letter includes accusations that Stedman “spent several thousand dollars to lease cars for the drug task force.”
Keppley’s main focus, however, was that the task force was not adequately funded by the county.
He said the task force was established in 1996 and was to be paid for by drug seizures, plus money from the state Attorney General’s office and the Federal government. Also, he said, money came from the municipalities at a rate of $1 per resident.

“To the best of my knowledge, from the chiefs of police meetings I’ve attended, Lancaster County contributes about $100,000 for a task force that should have a budget of $1.4 million,” he said.
Keppley noted that the county’s drug task force “is not funded by the county.” It’s funded by the contributing municipalities and forfeitures, he said, “and if you don’t have forfeitures, eventually it’s not sustainable.” The ramifications of not having a drug task force, Keppley said, “are steep.”
Lancaster County’s situation seems to be unique.

“To the best of my knowledge in the counties around us, the county pays for the drug task force,” Keppley said.

As the township’s response to the situation, Keppley suggested that the supervisors “send a letter to the Lancaster County board of commissioners indicating that they will not be contributing to the Lancaster County Drug Task Force until such a time that the commissioners fund the drug task force.” He said it was silly for the township to contribute funds until the commissioners “step up” and provide adequate funding.

Interim township manager Penny Pollick said she plans to attend an upcoming meeting of township managers. She will gauge their feelings and then make a recommendation to the board.

• The supervisors approved a request by Lititz Area Mennonite School for its annual Trash-A-Thon. Planned for Oct. 10 (rain date Oct. 17) the five hour event will involve 280 students plus parents and teachers cleaning up along 240 miles of roads, plus parks, churches and commercial properties. The trash will be hauled to LAMS for disposal.

• The board agreed to rescind a resignation letter from Ralph Buckles. Buckles had asked to be removed from his duties with the township’s planning commission since he intended to run a write-in campaign for supervisor in November against Jeffrey Mitchell. Buckles felt remaining on the board could pose possible conflict of interest issues. Buckles recently withdrew from the race citing a family health issue and asked to return to the planning commission. The board re-appointed him.

• The board acknowledged a letter from Comcast saying the cable giant had no plans to expand services to the township. The question was raised last meeting when residents balked at a seven year franchise renewal request from Blue Ridge Cable, feeling seven years was too long and worry about uncontrolled price hikes. It was noted Comcast as moving into the Ephrata and Lititz areas. Blue Ridge’s seven year franchise renewal was approved.

Larry Alexander is a correspondent for The Ephrata Review. He can be contacted at larry2851@yahoo.com.

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