With a police department staffed by only three full-time officers, about eight part-time officers and a chief, Nazareth mayor Fred Daugherty, Jr., publicly made his recommendation regarding the borough's struggling department.
"I strongly advise [Nazareth Borough] Council to pursue contract services with the department," Daugherty said at Thursday night's council workshop. "In my opinion, and from the information I have gathered, it's the logical choice to make. It's a smart move."
After the workshop, Daugherty explained that merging with Colonial Regional is not the answer because the process could take several years.
Dan Chiavaroli, council president, echoed Daugherty's comments, adding that he and councilman Larry Stoudt were "in meeting after meeting for three years" when Nazareth was poised to become part of Colonial when the department was formed in 1995.
Nazareth's mayor at the time vetoed involvement and the borough kept its department.
Daugherty, however, wants to take action immediately, and urged council members to pursue the contract with Colonial Regional as soon as possible.
"What we have to do is start looking at how we do things and how we can change the way we do business," he said.
In addition to a skeleton staff, escalating insurance costs -- mainly due to workers' compensation claims -- are another reason he cited as to why something must be done with the fledgling police department.
"Insurance companies are not in the business to lose money," he said. "They’re nothing more than a finance company who handles your claims, and one of the premises I’ve held over the years is that your biggest danger to a small municipality is your cost of public service and the services you provide."
Many Nazareth residents have voiced their concerns regarding regionalization and the contracting of services. Chief among the complaints is the potential loss of a police department with a personal touch.
But by contracting with Colonial Regional, added Daugherty, Nazareth is gaining back five of its officers -- including Roy Seiple, chief of Colonial Regional Police.
Seiple and four other Nazareth borough officers were laid off when Colonial Regional was created and the borough stopped providing coverage for Lower Nazareth Township.
Officers from the boroughs of Nazareth and Bath composed the core of Colonial Regional's eight-member force at its inception.
"There’s no ideal answer to the situation we’re in," Daugherty continued. "If I had my choice, I would prefer to have a small town police department in Nazareth, but I think we’re beyond that. I truly believe [contracting services] is the way council should go, and [they] should pursue the contract with Colonial Regional Police as soon as possible."
Colonial Regional Police currently covers Lower Nazareth Township, Hanover Township, Bath Borough and Chapman Borough.
Chapman, the home of 234 residents, contracts services.
During an to council members and the public, Seiple explained that Chapman currently has a three-year contract and is provided one hour of patrol per day and 24-hour services.
Chapman is only an example -- Nazareth's contract agreement and coverage could be completely different, depending on what Nazareth Borough Council decides.
When asked if the borough would become a safer place to live or own a business, Daugherty's answer was simple.
Seiple said during his presentation that Colonial Regional would need to hire additional officers if the borough decided to contract or merge with his department.
Nazareth Borough Council will hold its next meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 6; however, it is not known whether council members will hold a discussion or make a decision regarding the mayor's recommendation at Monday's meeting.