Will they or won’t they? The fate of West Cocalico and a regional police force remains on the line

By on February 11, 2015

It was a sort of do-or-die discussion about the proposed Cocalico regional police force that dominated the Feb. 5 meeting of the West Cocalico supervisors.

In past council sessions, leaders said “they can, or might have to go elsewhere” for police services and not use East Cocalico.

If the new police services are to start Jan. 1, 2016, as the timeline states, at some point the supervisors have to either bail out and look for another service, or be all in to this one.

Ray Burns, East Cocalico representative to the commission, directed the question to James J. Stoner, West Cocalico supervisor, at the supervisors’ meeting.

“You have to have, I would think, in the back of your mind a timeline in your mind where you need to know if this is going to happen or it’s not going to happen and where do we go from there?” said Burns.

Stoner has been a work horse, in front and behind the scenes for West Cocalico. He says what he means and doesn’t care to edit or soften words or temper. He even said “I bite” when being photographed for the paper.

As a result, he is challenged by other leaders and visitors. At this point in the timeline for the police force, it seems a stand-off between West Cocalico and East Cocalico.

“What I said at that meeting is what I said,” said Stoner, referring to what happened at the last leaders meeting. “I’m not going to deceive anybody and say I’ve had a change of heart. Not to say that my heart ain’t open, but it’s going to have to be a give-and-take thing. I’m not going to go in there and just get rejected on everything because it might affect that timeline. I meant what I said last Thursday night.

“I didn’t appreciate getting called on the table like that, but I did step up to the plate and say what I said, didn’t I? And I’m going to hold what I said.”

Stoner calls himself a “numbers guy.” He is making sure West Cocalico gets the best, most fair deal even if it means being the bad guy. Burns insinuated Stoner may not get what he wants.

“I’m not sure that no matter how much work and how much effort is put in by the group of people involved that we’re going to be able to achieve that certainty of budgetary numbers for everybody to be comfortable with the way they’ve described how comfortable they have to be with those numbers,” said Burns.

Some at the meeting had concerns about the timeline and if this new police force is even possible by January 2016.

“Looking at that schedule, that commission has one heck of a bunch of things to do by January and some people could question if it’s realistic to do it…further delays might get to the point where we say is there isn’t enough time,” said Ralph Vedder, Adamstown representative to the police commission.

West Cocalico resident Terry Bergman left the meeting more optimistic than when he came.

“The timeline is terrific, I think the guy (Ralph Vedder) did a good job,” said Bergman. “As a West Cocalico taxpayer at that meeting, I just felt a little uncomfortable with the timeline and what the discussion was all about as far as where we are at.”

Bergman said he and many fellow taxpayers are anxious for the regional police force to be formed. He said doing the process correctly is worth the wait past Jan. 1.

“The Cocalico regional police is a win-win for all of us. It must happen,” Bergman said. “We have an ideal situation to put this together. The response time would be terrific. We already have a good police department right now, East Cocalico, so all the nuts and bolts of the regional police department are already here.”

Council members from the four municipalities-Adamstown, Denver, West Cocalico, and East Cocalico have noted personality conflicts from the start and indicate that contributes to the delay, confusion, and slow communication.

“I’ve been to a few of the police meetings,” said Bergman. “I just hope we can lay aside some personalities and egos and move forward.”

Michele Walter Fry welcomes your comments at michelewalterfry@gmail.com.

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