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Regional police ahead of schedule Also, no word on taxes as preliminary budget meeting approaches for Warwick Twp.
By: GARY P. KLINGER Record Express Correspondent, Staff Writer
The new Northern Lancaster County Regional Police Department — which will comprise Warwick, Penn and Clay townships — is nearly ready to roll.
Vehicles are being outfitted with the new logos, uniforms are almost ready, and it appears the process will be complete by the end of this year.
Warwick Township’s Police Chief David Steffan, who will head the regional force, updated the township supervisors during their Oct. 19 meeting. He said work continues, with graphic designs for the new force nearly complete. These new graphics will create the look of the new unified force and will be seen on signs, cars and uniforms. Police cruisers from each of the participating townships will receive the new graphics. New designs for uniforms are now also complete, with the process of ordering the correct sizes for officers underway. Steffen hopes to have all officers uniformed by Dec. 1.
"They are being developed and rolled out as we speak," added Steffen. "The emblems for the shoulder patch worn by the officers are completed and are the same as the marking on the patrol vehicle fleet. The colors and car design are compatible with the uniforms worn by the new regional police department."
Steffen also commented on the look and make-up of the new force’s fleet of vehicles.
"The cars are being transitioned to a uniform scheme and are being repainted and remarked to the agency scheme," he explained. "The cars were designed to provide a classic and professional appearance. There is also a crash avoidance warning design on the rear bumper of the vehicle. In addition, reflective material has been placed on all of the interior doors; this allows the passing motorists to see an open car door. The design of the vehicles was given a lot of consideration because of the need to incorporate cost effectiveness, safety and a projection of the image of the new agency to the public. Since the most cost effective fleet management plan did not include purchase of new patrol vehicles to replace those previously in use, replacement will be completed on a pre-planned basis with safety and cost containment as the primary objective."
Commenting on the process of launching the new force, Steffen said he and his team are working to streamline the organization so that there is not a duplication of efforts and so that information is collected in the most efficient manner possible so as to maximize the amount of time officers can be on patrol. Work is ongoing to grow and develop the administrative side of the force while conducting a thorough policy review.
"We are essentially ahead of schedule on every aspect of the transition," said Steffen. "A good deal of work has been done since the charter was passed on Sept. 21."
Steffen added that there has been considerable back and forth communication and cooperation between the various township managers at every point along the way so that the municipalities can work together to allay public concerns and ease the transition process.
"We are also working to update our emergency response listings so that residents will know whom to call and when to call," added Steffen. "We are trying to flatten out the workload, recognizing that time is money. We don’t need the same thing to be done by three different people when once and done would suffice."
At Wednesday’s meeting, supervisors voted to appoint fellow supervisors Tony Chivinski and David Kramer to represent the township to the Northern Lancaster County Regional Police Commission. Supervisor Herb Flosdorf indicated that a four year term was too long.
"I’d favor making these appointments during the interim period, perhaps for four months," said Flosdorf. "I’m OK with four months, but I feel it would be too long with four years."
As one of those appointed, Chivinski expressed an openness to changing the length of the term at a later point.
"The important thing is to get the force up and running," commented Chivinski. "We can always change it later. I would be very willing to be done in six months."
Supervisors were in agreement that such an understanding of the matter was to be recorded in the minutes for future reference.
There are no indications at this point as to whether or not Warwick Township will continue its 20-year trend of no tax increase.
That was the word at the Oct. 19 supervisors meeting as they enter budget season. Township manager Dan Zimmerman is working to prepare this year’s preliminary spending plan.
"The 2012 budget will be presented at the Nov. 16 board meeting," he said. "Adoption of the budget will be considered at the Dec. 21 meeting. We are still waiting to confirm a number of figures on how the 2011 budget will end up and how that will impact the 2012 fiscal budget. It would be our goal to keep taxes stable, but a final decision will have to wait until the preliminary budget is finished."
Beginning with an advertised, public budget workshop session, which will begin at 4 p.m. on Nov. 16, the township, like all state municipalities, must have a final budget adopted by the end of December.
Of all things that could still have a considerable impact on the budget, township costs associated with the new regional police force and the changes in the earned income tax are among the more prominent. Yet Zimmerman remains optimistic that work on the budget can be done on time, even while acknowledging it is still too early to make a prediction regarding taxes. More REGIONAL POLICE, page A3