East Washington will keep its police department.
Borough officials voted unanimously Monday night to continue operating their department, but they are now planning to shuffle the personnel roster by adding another full-time police officer while cutting several part-time positions.
The plan closely mirrors an outline that councilmembers Bill Adams and Lisa Crosier put forward last year that would include two full-time police officers, including a chief, with four to seven part-time officers. A full year operating budget would cost the borough about $261,000, Adams and Crosier estimated last year.
Crosier said Monday night the decision is the result of an “overwhelming majority” of borough residents who expressed their opinion that the police department should remain in place.
“If there is a reasonable way to do that, I think we should,” Crosier said.
The vote means big changes will be coming to the department within the next three months as the borough puts the new plan into action. The borough budgeted to spend $208,650 this year on police protection with a full-time chief and 16 part-time officers. The borough will now advertise hiring for all of the positions, including police chief.
“Sixteen part-time officers is just not feasible and it gets us more people who are committed to the borough,” Adams said.
The decision comes a month after South Strabane supervisors decline to offer a proposal on what it would cost for their police officers to patrol in East Washington. South Strabane supervisors initially expressed interest, but decided on April 22 to forgo sending an offer to East Washington.
“The more we talked about it, the more we decided that we have our hands full with South Strabane Township,” Manager John Stickle said.
The City of Washington late last year extended a contract offer to East Washington to overtake police services for $118,433 this year. The borough delayed making a decision on that proposal while waiting for new councilmembers to take office, and Washington officials since pulled the offer from the table. Washington Mayor Brenda Davis said she had no comment on East Washington’s decision to retain its police department.
Adams said the community’s outpouring of support for keeping the police department made it the best option for the borough.
“It was overwhelming at that (November) public meeting,” Adams said. “I saw almost no dissension there.”
Councilmembers Guy Tucci and Blake McCandless were not in attendance when the vote was taken.