East Washington renews police contract talks

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East Washington officials are asking South Strabane Township to submit a proposal to contract police services with the borough as they continue to consider whether to keep their police department or outsource protection to a neighboring community.


Council President Bill Adams cautioned that it does not mean the borough intends to disband the police department and that it is just another fact-finding task to help make a final decision.


The unanimous vote Monday night to submit a formal “request for proposal” to South Strabane comes two months after the previous council voted to table an offer from Washington to take over police protection. Adams said officials are taking their time to consider every option available.


“There was a need for more investigation of the costs,” Adams said.


The request for proposal is for a one-year contract that includes “general protection” for the borough, Adams said. The council hopes to receive a response in about a month, he said.


But South Strabane supervisors already decided in October that they were not interested in offering a contract to East Washington. Adams did not know if they would change their minds, but noted they previously rejected the idea after having only informal discussions on the request. South Strabane Township Manager John Stickle said the supervisors would review the request, but he could not predict what action they might take.


Adams said this proposal will be written to mirror the same request made to Washington last year.


“We want to make sure we’re making equal comparisons,” Adams said.


The city had offered to handle police protection for East Washington this year for $118,433, although it’s not known if that figure still stands. The contract offer was met by stiff opposition from residents and some members of council who wanted to keep the police department. Adams and Councilwoman Lisa Crosier assembled their own police budget that they said improve the department’s performance.


Adams acknowledged they need more time for the rest of council, which has four new members, to review all proposals. Although there is no timeline for any decision to be made, he said council would like to move forward with one of the options by May “so it doesn’t linger on forever.”


The borough expects to spend $208,650 this year – about 25 percent of its annual budget – on police protection and employs a full-time chief and 16 part-time officers.


Meanwhile, the council voted to accept an updated policy manual for the police department. Council members said they still want their insurance carrier and a police chief from a neighboring community to review the updated policy manual.


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