Life gets busy, and I missed something I should have posted a couple of days ago, and I am truly sorry. And I am torn how to present this, because no matter what is said, this is a very difficult subject. (So if you have a comment or clarification to what I am posting, PLEASE post a comment.)
When I was at East Goshen Day this summer, a friend of mine told me there was a rumor that East Goshen was dissolving their police force. Based on a letter a friend from outside Chester County forwarded to me, I would say it wasn’t just a rumor.
I am going to say that the only criticism I had with East Goshen prior to this was the fact that they neither stream their meetings on their website nor put them on Public Access TV. After getting this letter forwarded to me, I can see there might be a real need for meetings to be televised and/or streamed on their website.
Now as for the whole get rid of the local police department of it all, I find that distressing and this all appears at first look to have roots in some sort of labor dispute. Communities need their police force in addition to other first responders. This police force at present is like a twinned parish – it is shared with a neighboring municipality – Westtown. (Hence their name Westtown-East Goshen Regional Police Department.)
Having a community without a police department in my humble opinion is like trying to walk without legs. Maybe that is overly simplistic, but police aren’t an optional accessory in a community, they are a necessity. They know their residents, the roads, local ordinances, etc.
Additionally, I am always leery of paid consultants who come into a community to tell the community about where they live. My experience is, having seen millions of tax dollars flitter away in consultants’ pockets where I used to live, is ask the residents FIRST. About EVERYTHING.
East Goshen, please do the right thing here. In this economy, spending $65,000 on an outside consultant doesn’t strike me as the best use of taxpayer dollars. Please. It is as much as anything else, a question of public safety. I hope my post isn’t coming after some decision was made. (and hopefully the idea of a pricey outside consultant was tabled for now?) Of course (again), this is why, it would be helpful to stream meetings on the website or utilize public access television and broadcast the meetings.
I am posting what I currently see on East Goshen’s website, and my concern is it won’t reach everyone who lives in the township, so how else is it being distributed? See East Goshen Website:
Latest Township News & Events
The Board of Supervisors will be holding “Police Services Options Workshops” at 7:00 pm on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month. These workshops will be devoted solely to the review and discussion of the police service options available to East Goshen Township. All residents are invited to attend and encouraged to participate in the discussions. Regular Township business will not be conducted at these workshops. By way of background, East Goshen and Westtown Townships jointly created the Westtown East Goshen Regional Police Department (WEGO) in 1981. WEGO is one of 35 regional police departments in Pennsylvania and it provides police service to Thornbury Township on a contract basis. As the current labor agreement with the Police Association is set to expire on December 31, 2013, it is incumbent on the Board of Supervisors to explore all available options moving forward. While WEGO has provided excellent service for over 30 years, the substantial and ever-increasing cost of this service presents a serious challenge for current and future residents of the Township as the financial requirements of the current labor agreement are not sustainable. More information available here
Below my final comments is the letter I received. Please read it. Please let East Goshen know how you feel about this. I find the trend of discussing getting rid of local police forces truly alarming. This is being tossed about in Malvern Borough too. I found online an article Malvern Patch where it was reported August 20th with regard to East Goshen that :
East Whiteland Police Chief Eugene Dooley might soon be spending more time in East Goshen, according to a report in the Daily Local News….
The temporary assignment would come amid broader changes within Westtown-East Goshen Police Department. Thornbury Township has indicated it will not renew its contract with the regional force when it expires at the end of 2012.
Twitter user Leo Sinclair pondered the possible implications of Dooley’s temporary assignment, asking “First indication that East Goshen Twp plans to merge with East Whiteland Twp Police?”
So what is going on? Will our police be merging with yet another municipality as a cost saving measure? Or will East Goshen be served by State Police? Or a professional for hire don’t know what else to call it except rent a cops?
I doubt anything will happen quickly, but I definitely think a pause button is in order.
To be fair, my final comment is to the police force: if this situation has a basis in a contract/labor dispute I have not read up on, but I bet a lot has to do with benefits, as that seems to be a common theme today, where is a middle ground? I mean no disrespect, but we live in a different world than our parents did and probably even different from when we grew up. I am one of the millions of people who is self-pay on healthcare benefits. It just is what it is – after all in the private sector not all companies provide benefits, and it is also the sole option in most cases for the self-employed. My point is I manage. And I managed even with breast cancer.
So as I am posting the letter below, I am going to make a plea to both sides to find a palatable middle point. Because in this kind of tug of war, the ultimate losers are the residents. I hope both sides can resolve this and save the police force.
Again, here is the letter:
September 4, 2012
Dear East Goshen Resident,
As you may know, members of the East Goshen Township Board of Supervisors have rejected a number of proposals to extend the contract for local police service provided by the Westtown – East Goshen Regional Police Department. Now, it appears that the Township is intent on dissolving our local police department. In fact, at tonight’s East Goshen Township Supervisors meeting, supervisors appear prepared to vote to recommend that the township pay a consultant $65,000 in taxpayer funds to study the township’s options with respect to future police services.
This action comes on the heels of a number of local residents speaking out in opposition to the Township’s proposal to eliminate our current regional police force. But our Township Supervisors appear unwilling to listen to the views or wishes of local residents. In fact, last week, supervisors said that the cost of surveying local residents for their opinion on whether to retain our current police force was “too expensive.”
In reality, sending a mailing to every household in the district with a response card would cost less than $6,500. That is less than 10 percent of the $65,000 that supervisors are on the verge of recommending be spent at tonight’s meeting to hire a consultant. Wouldn’t it make sense to determine whether residents support dissolving our police force before spending $65,000 on a consultant to tell them how to do it? Not only is this action fiscally irresponsible, it also seems to indicate that our elected officials do not care what “we the people” who they are elected to represent have to say.
In addition, the Westtown – East Goshen Regional Police Department is not aware of any Request for Proposals or public bidding process for the professional services that this consultant would provide. Failure to solicit proposals from multiple sources – who could potentially provide better value and expertise –raises serious ethical questions and would appear to violate government procurement policies due to the large size of the contract.
Please contact the township and supervisors prior to tonight’s meeting to tell them this $65,000 contract should be rejected until after local residents have been surveyed and the consulting services have been competitively procured through a public procurement process. I would also encourage you to share your concerns publicly at tonight’s meeting at 7 p.m. at the Township Building to help prevent this vote from occurring. They represent us and need to hear from us, so please pass this on to your friends and neighbors as well.
The township’s phone number is 610 692-7171 and the supervisors’ emails are also provided below.
Senya D. Isayeff, Chairman – firstname.lastname@example.org
Thom Clapper, Ph.D., Vice Chairman – email@example.com
Carmen R. Battavio – firstname.lastname@example.org
Charles W. Proctor, III, J.D., C.L.T.P. – email@example.com E.
Martin Shane – firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom Haws – email@example.com
Carol DeWolf- firstname.lastname@example.org
Charles Barber- email@example.com
This push to approve a $65,000 consultant contract to examine options for doing away with our police department – which is not supported by local residents –and with no known public procurement process raises serious concerns about our Township’s supervisors commitment to transparency, fiscal responsibility, and a representative government.
Thank you for your ongoing support, and please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns.
Westtown-East Goshen Police Association