2008-10-09 / Front Page

Council Continues Planning For Police Force Abolishment

One-hour executive session held

McConnellsburg Borough Council members spent much of their regular meeting last Wednesday evening in executive session. The session was called for by their solicitor, Carlton Walker, who reported it was called to discuss "employment matters." The session lasted one hour and council members declined to offer any comments regarding the outcome.

Although it was not specified that the session was called to discuss borough police matters, council is currently in negotiations to settle "endof contract" issues raised after council voted 4-2 on August 28, 2008, to abandon its police force effective at 11:59 p.m. on December 31, 2008, when the current contract ends. During the regular council meeting in September, council also voted, this time 4-3, to allow attorney Walker to hire co-counsel to assist her in the end-of-contract labor negotiations. To date, there has been no comment from the council on the progress of those negotiations.

In related matters on Wednesday evening, council met with the local Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) station commander Sgt. Jesse Zorger, who informed council members that, according to regulation, he must file a report, with the PSP troop commander "in the event a political subdivision is considering the abolishment of, or a reduction in the size of, its police department on a permanent or temporary basis, and requests the assistance of the PSP to provide the essential police services."

The majority of council members as well as some borough citizens and property owners have maintained that the borough police force was too expensive and was unnecessary because the two-man force provided coverage less than 40 percent of the time while the PSP provided the remaining coverage. Now Sgt. Zorger said he will report the disbandment of the local force to the troop commander in the hopes that he can get more manpower at the local station to provide that coverage.

The regulation also asks several questions requiring answers to be submitted to the troop commander. Those questions include the events that led to the abolishment; the date of disbandment; demographic details of the subdivision (such as square miles, population); anticipated PSP manpower and equipment needs; and the planned course of action.

Also, during the October meet- ing, county Sheriff Keith Stains appeared before council members informing them that his department would be interested in purchasing the borough police cruiser at the end of the year. Stains said that the radio and computer equipment in the vehicle could then be used by his department. Council asked its solicitor how the vehicle would have to be sold, and she reported that council could sell the cruiser to another government entity or political subdivision without requiring bids. Council decided to ask the sheriff to make an offer on the vehicle.

In other police-related matters, Councilman Jim Smith gave the September police report, which included: 124 patrols; 94 requests to "see an officer;" 15 school patrols; 10 criminal investigations; and 6 traffic citations.

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