Police coverage questionable in West Cocalico in new year

By on December 17, 2014

Police service in West Cocalico Township in the new year dominated a portion of the Dec. 16 session. At issue: Will the supervisors and East Cocalico Township come to an agreement or will the Pennsylvania State Police be called in to cover West Cocalico’s law enforcement needs?
Supervisor James J. Stone, who is responsible for policing matters, noted concerns both over formal agreement to continue the coverage pact and that the decision is being made at the eleventh hour.
“I asked for this (process to start) back in October,” said Stoner, “and now here we are at the end of the year.”
Stoner, however, expressed his belief an agreement can be reached in the next few weeks, both on the 2015 pact with East Cocalico, and the formation of a regional force that would cover West and East Cocalico, Denver, and Adamstown beginning Jan. 1, 2016.
Police Chief George Beever was scheduled to meet with others Tuesday afternoon to review the newest draft for regional pact and report back to the supervisors.
Stoner, Carolyn Hildebrand, West Cocalico Township manager, and Noelle Fortna and Mark Hiester, East Cocalico supervisor and manager, respectively, are to meet Wednesday afternoon to finalize the one-year coverage pact with East Cocalico.
“I’m optimistic we’ll have something favorable we can work out,” he said. “If not, we’ll continue under the old contract. I’ve also contacted the state police so that we have back-up and will have their coverage if needed.”
Ray Burns, a former member of the East Cocalico Township Police Department and now a member at large to the regional police board, questioned the legality of the state police covering or even the East Cocalico Police Department covering in the event of a contract lapse.
Stoner replied that he had spoken to Larry B. Maier, township solicitor, who said there would be no issues.
He encouraged the supervisors to contact the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office for a second opinion.
“I would urge you to be certain this is legal, to make sure that any arrests made would stand up in court,” said Burns who regularly attends the West Cocalico meetings.
The board directed Hildebrand to contact Sue Moyer, an assistant district attorney, for an opinion on coverage should Jan. 1, 2015 come without a formal police coverage agreement.
The sticking points with East Cocalico for continued coverage center on differing numbers between West and East Cocalico and conflict with the MMO contracted by East Cocalico. Hildebrand also noted some matters not pertaining to police services are at issue as well. Stoner believes the number proposed by West Cocalico may rise.
Hildebrand and Stoner said Adamstown and Denver boroughs have agreed on a multi-year contract with East Cocalico for coverage, but Stoner stressed the agreement being sought by West Cocalico is for one year only.
Stoner said, even if an agreement is reached, he will not call for a special township meeting to ratify it.
“I’ve already put too much of my own time in this and with Christmas coming there is just too much to do at home and at work,” said Stoner.
Regarding another regional matter, Hildebrand noted an e-mail sent to the township as well as Denver and Adamstown borough releasing all three munipalities from a general obligation bond, Series 2010, involving the formerly jointly owned 1975 N. Reading Road property.
The release of three municipalities by East Cocalico Township and Ephrata National Bank, is one of the final steps in removing any ownership and concurrent liability of the controversial property.
“I want to thank East Cocalico and Ephrata National Bank for releasing us from the bond — it’s official and signed by them,” said Stoner.
His fellow supervisor, Terry Scheetz, urged some caution.
“This issue is not totally dead yet,” he said, noting there are matters of escrow and land division subsequent to the sale of the property.
In other business:
*Roadmaster Tom Showalter noted his crew has already accrued 13.5 hours of overtime due to snowfalls/icing on Nov. 26 and 27 and Dec. 10 and 11.
Three loads of salt were delivered Dec. 5 and two more on Dec. 12. Showalter and Hildebrand said they are making every effort to keep the salt supply at full levels to avert shortage issues that plagued many municipalities last winter.
*The supervisors agreed to donate the minute book dated July 1947 to July 1951 including school minutes to the Cocalico Valley Historical Society for preservation.

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