Every year without fail the insurance premiums for the Upper Perk Police Department increase. On Monday night, Paul Pugielli – a representative from Brown & Brown Associates, commercial insurance carriers for the Upper Perk Police Department – explained to the Upper Perk Police Commission that the high cost of insuring the police department is due to workmen’s compensation insurance.
Pugielli said the cost of insurance for the department this year will be $72,000; the workmen’s compensation portion of the policy is $56,000. He noted that most insurance carriers do not want to insure police departments for workmen’s compensation because of police car accidents and injuries sustained by policemen in the line of duty. There is only one carrier, EMC Insurance Company, that offers a policy to police departments.
Ryan Sloyer, East Greenville representative to the police commission, expressed his exasperation with the situation. “It is just wrong,” Sloyer said. “Every year since 1998 our premiums go up. We are very much held hostage because they are the only ones who offer it. It is ridiculous to pay an increase each year when we have not had a car accident or anyone hurt.”
Sloyer suggested that Pugielli shop the police department’s entire insurance package to other insurance carriers to try to get a better rate.
Pugielli said there are three other regional police departments that his firm insures. He said it might be possible to get a better insurance rate if all three police departments combined their policies.
Police Commission Solicitor Phil Gazan questioned Pugielli about the cost difference between a municipal police department insurance premium and a regional police department premium. Pugielli said that sometimes an insurance carrier will offer a discount of up to 25 percent to a municipal police department because the carrier will also cover other employees of the municipality. The credit does not apply to regional police departments, such as the Upper Perk Police Department. Pugielli explained the State of Pennsylvania Compensation Bureau sets the rate for police insurance. He promised to find an alternative insurance carrier who would provide better rates.
In other business, Pennsburg Borough Council received a letter from Florence Lee, a borough resident who lives along Route 663, expressing concern about the number of accidents between Route 29 and Route 663, and Route 663 and Montgomery Avenue.
Council members referred the letter to the police commission for input. Gazan suggested that the letter be sent to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and elected officials at the state level who have authority in the matter. Because Route 663 is a state road that is controlled by PennDot, there is very little the police or Pennsburg can do to make the road safer. Only PennDot can determine if crosswalks or traffic lights are warranted along Route 663. Even the speed limit is determined by PennDot, not the police or borough.
In reference to a controversy over generators in Pennsburg, Sloyer said that he “did not want to take sides,” but he wanted to assure the public that it need not be concerned if there is ever another extreme weather event in the area, such as Hurricane Sandy. Sloyer noted that the police department was up and running within 24 hours of Sandy hitting the region.
“Sandy was a freak storm,” Sloyer said. “Some areas were without power for over a week. We worked with the county and PPL. We had power within 24 hours.”
Vicki Lightcap, Pennsburg representative to the police commission, reiterated Sloyer’s remarks and added, “Pennsburg always has a place to get generators for its public buildings in case of a storm, and it always will.”
There were 53 crimes reported to the Upper Perk Police in June: 28 in Pennsburg and 25 in East Greenville. There were eight thefts, 13 assaults, 13 vandalism, two burglaries, three sex offenses, three DUIs, three drug violations and five forgeries.