Upper Perk Police showed up in force at the Upper Perk Police Commission meeting Monday night. Rumors of police layoffs proved accurate when the police commission voted unanimously to immediately layoff two full-time officers and one part-time officer.
Currently, there are seven full-time officers, including a chief of police who serve in the two boroughs of East Greenville and Pennsburg.
Police Commission Chairman, Ryan Sloyer, mayor of East Greenville, issued a statement that explained East Greenville’s position. In that statement, he said in the interest of keeping a regional police force, East Greenville reluctantly would agree to the police cuts.
The combined budget of the police department is $1,052,681. For 2013 East Greenville will pay $473,706.45 for police protection and Pennsburg will pay $578,974.55. Pennsburg has a larger population than East Greenville and has more police calls, so it must expend more for police services.
Sloyer’s statement said the police commission had discussions with Upper Perk Police Chief, Mike Devlin, and Fraternal Order of Police representatives regarding the police contract and East Greenville and Pennsburg boroughs’ financial situations. The police commission had a tentative agreement with the police officers and chief that included $50,000 in concessions.
Sloyer noted in his statement the police chief and the Fraternal Order of Police rejected the proposed changes and that the original contract will remain in place through 2013.
In these hard economic times, Pennsburg representatives reportedly decided not to burden their citizens with more economic hardship. So they agreed not to raise taxes.
Sloyer noted, “The Upper Perk Police Department has existed since the 1970’s as a joint police department. East Greenville is willing to work with Pennsburg through Pennsburg’s financial needs.”
He also said the reduction in police is not in the best interest of the safety and well being of borough residents. Pennsylvania State Police coverage might be necessary for the two boroughs at times because of the reduction of the Upper Perk Police Department.
Many residents who attended the meeting were decidedly concerned about the police cuts. Some residents of the boroughs begged the police commission to keep the extra police. Danielle Sykes of East Greenville explained to the police commission that when she called the Upper Perk Police after a car accident just outside East Greenville in Upper Hanover Township she was informed the Pennsylvania State Police must handle the call.
Sykes asserted she waited over an hour for state police assistance. Upper Perk Police cannot assist in Upper Hanover Township unless the state police request Upper Perk handles the incident.
Another resident, Chris Baccari, who serves as a police officer in a different municipality, explained that when a municipality has “proactive police, not reactive police crime goes down dramatically.”
Baccari said, “In every police call there are always two people involved. Every domestic involves two people, every fight there are two people.” He said if there is one cop to a call there is a problem.
Baccari noted, “At a 4:30 a.m. call it is awful, even when there are two cops. Get your financial cuts in other places. If you have a reactive police department the community suffers.”
Doug Criddle, a Pennsburg resident, suggested to cut the police who are first responders and heros is a “sin.” Criddle reiterated Baccari’s assertion that financial cuts to a budget should come from other sources and not the police.
Nauman Sheikh, the owner of the 7Eleven on Main Street in Pennsburg, said because of the “excellent” response time of the Upper Perk Police Department, his store is safe. He said because of the proximity to Route 663 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike, crime would increase without the police. He said, “Cutting staff is not the way to go.”
Stacy Kolb of Pennsburg said Pennsburg should to look at its budget and “consider what the cops do.” “Crime has gone down because of the police,” he noted. He observed if the police were cut drug dealers would return, DUIs and break-ins would increase. Kolb said, “Take the budget back and discuss it. Safety is not an option, it is a must.”
East Greenville Borough Council will meet tonight at 7:30 p.m. and again on Monday, December 3 at 7 p.m. Pennsburg Borough Council will meet on Tuesday, December 4 at 7 p.m.
In other business, the Perkiomen School donated $4,000 for Upper Perk Police’s participation in the North Penn Tactical Team.
For the month of October, there were 39 crimes reported to the police. There were 22 crimes in Pennsburg and 17 in East Greenville. There was one arson, two narcotic violations, one sex offense, one burglary, and one robbery.