The Upper Perkiomen Police Commission on Monday discussed possible fund-raising efforts to help pay for new uniforms, but the idea raised concerns about whether such activities could have unintended consequences.
The cost of the new uniforms would total approximately $5,000, which would provide three uniforms for each officer. To help raise funds for the new police uniforms, several police officers intend to participate in the Macoby Run 5K in November. One-third of any proceeds from the run would go to the Police Officer's Association, which would eventually pay for the uniforms.
According to Pennsburg Mayor and Police Commission member Vicki Lightcap, the purpose of police officers fundraising is to save taxpayers some money. However, Upper Perk Police Commission Solicitor Phil Gazan questioned whether the police commission should permit its officers to fund raise.
"If we take a hands-off approach, we must take the consequences," Gazan cautioned.
East Greenville Councilman and Police Commission member Ryan Sloyer said that he has no problem with a police officer fundraiser; although, he added, that if officers fundraise it should not be specifically for new uniforms, but for all equipment. East Greenville Council President Tim Huff noted the Philadelphia Police Department raised funds to build new stables for its police horses.
Several police commission members expressed concern about the new uniforms themselves, noting that the proposed uniforms are made of cotton-polyester and might become very hot in the summer. The commission also questioned whether the warranty on the uniforms would be voided if the uniforms, which are supposed to be dry-cleaned, are machine washed.
The police commission intends to get feedback from other police departments that have the uniforms to find out if they are durable and must be dry-cleaned. Additionally, it may ask one of its officers to wear the uniform to determine if it is comfortable.
Sloyer, who has been on the police commission for 15 years, issued a clarion call to the commission that it should try to save some money and be careful of what it spends. Sloyer said even the best budget cannot plan for unforeseen emergencies. He noted East Greenville has had to raise taxes to pay for its membership in the police department and the borough will "burst if it has to raise taxes again."
He said East Greenville has the 12th highest taxes out of 66 municipalities in Montgomery County. It spends 39.5 percent of its budget on the police department and only 5 percent on its roads. Police Chief Michael Devlin promised the police commission he will look at finances to try to find ways to come in under budget.
In other business, the police commission agreed to a request by East Greenville Councilman Joe Pierson to ban roving vendors during the Halloween and Christmas parades. Pierson said that the vendors frequently obstruct the parade and are uncooperative when asked to move.
He will ask Red Hill Borough Council, which is not members of the Upper Perk Police Commission, to set up barriers at the corner of Fifth and Main streets in Red Hill during the parades to allow better flow in the parade route.
Also at the meeting, a life-saving award was presented to a Bucks County EMT and an Upper Perk Police officer. Police Chief Mike Devlin presented the award to Officer Jim McVeigh and Bucks County EMT Vincent Sakaitis.
Last month a chance meeting between the EMT and Upper Perk police officer saved the life of a person who was choking. The person, who was at the Pennsburg Diner, was unconscious with a weak pulse when McVeigh was called for assistance. Sakaitis was at the diner to meet some friends.
Together, Sakaitis and McVeigh administered CPR. The person was treated and released from the hospital with "no lasting effects," according to Devlin.
Devlin reported there were 53 crimes in February. It represents an increase from January of 15 crimes. Pennsburg had 31 crimes and East Greenville had 22 crimes. There were six thefts, one car theft, three forgeries, 11 assaults, five vandalisms, one burglary, four DUIs, one offense against family, three public drunkenness, nine drug violations and nine borough ordinance offenses.