Bath Borough weighs decision to change police departments
Bath Borough Manager Brad Flynn opened a one-hour special public meeting May 18 with the council-appointed police advisory committee. The committee was formed to gather information about a potential change of policing. Currently, Bath police services are provided by Colonial Regional Police Department (CRPD). The committee has been gathering information during the past seven months.
CRPD serves Bath Borough, Hanover Township and Lower Nazareth Township. A CRPD Police Advisory Commission has members from all three municipalities. Neither Hanover or Lower Nazareth townships, despite being invited 10 days earlier, attended the meeting. Flynn expressed disappointment they did not attend.
Mayor Fiorella Reginelli-Mirabito said, “They were invited. I am not happy tonight because my commission members are not here.”
This prompted council member Barry Fenstermaker to remark, “They don’t care if we leave (CRPD).”
Police advisory committee member Beth Beers changed the meeting’s tone by saying, “Bath is at a crossroad. Can we stay and continue with CRPD, or is it too expensive to stay?”
A resident asked, “What are the alternatives?” to which Flynn answered, “Pennsylvania State Police or Moore Township.”
Saginario reported the current cost of CRPD is $413,000 a year, while Moore Township offered to complete policing services annually for Bath for $273,000.
Colonial Regional Police Department Chief Roy Seiple explained reasons to keep CRPD. He lauded his department’s efforts serving Bath for the last two decades. He disputed some of the data presented by Flynn. Seiple said Bath’s decision is not a financial decision in response to council and committee members who consistently said this is a financial decision. He disputed Moore Township’s offer, stating there is no way this can be done. Saginario asked the discussion not be about Moore Township because representatives were not present.
A reporter for The Press asked if there is a deadline to the information-gathering effort and when a vote to remain or dismiss CRPD may occur. Saginario said the deadline is Dec. 15. Council’s goal is to hold a vote in June or July. If the choice next month is made to go with Moore Township Police Department, the change will become effective January 2019.
A rich discussion ensued with topics of a contracted relationship with CRPD, which would negate commission membership for Bath — possibly changing the metrics used to determine the annual CRPD costs for Bath — and other projects the borough must complete, such as road repair, municipal building renovations and budget questions.
Saginario ended the meeting by saying council is trying to be as transparent as possible.
“This is a decision that is bigger than council,” he said. “We want residents’ input.”