Against a backdrop of Nazareth possibly joining another police force, the chief of the outlined for borough council Thursday the advantages and disadvantages of regionalization.
Roy Seiple, chief of Colonial Regional, began his talk by saying it would not be controversial.
“This is simply an informative presentation,” Seiple said. “It’s not a controversial presentation. This is just what Colonial Regional Police does.”
Before moving forward, Seiple, again, wanted to make clear that anything he says should not offend Nazareth’s current department.
“Anything I say is not going to be derogatory toward them,” he said. “They do a great job and they do the best job they can with the resources they have.”
Colonial Regional Police , according to Seiple, and currently covers Lower Nazareth Township, Hanover Township, Bath Borough and Chapman Borough. Chapman, the home of 234 residents, contracts services.
“We have a three-year contract with Chapman and we provide them with one hour of patrol per day and 24-hour services,” Seiple said.
Covering 22 square miles and a population of 20,000, the department is staffed by 24 officers -- 15 officers, four sergeants, two detectives, a detective sergeant, a deputy chief and a chief of police.
Rex, a 7-year-old Belgian Malinois, is trained in drug detection and protection, according to Seiple, who added there are plans to add a second K-9 unit trained in bomb detection.
The entire department, including Seiple, answers to a police commission, which is made up of three voting members and three alternates. Chapman Borough does not have a voting member.
One resident questioned if the department would have to hire additional officers if Nazareth were to join or contract with Colonial.
“That’s a given,” Seiple said. “There’s no way we could cover the borough with the number of officers we have now.”
In the table below, Seiple estimated how many reportable calls Colonial may have responded to in 2010 had Nazareth been covered by the department:
Seiple addressed concerns residents and council members may have, including loss of control, decreased officer presence, equitable distribution of service, loss of personal touch and cost.
“If you’re unhappy, then I’m not doing my job right and I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be doing,” Seiple said. “Then we have to discuss it. If someone has an issue with something, they call me, we hash it out and fix it.”
As far as cost, according to Seiple, “Cost is always a concern, but that’s something you have to weigh with what you have and what you want to have.”
And that is exactly what officials from Lower Nazareth and Hanover townships did.
“Hanover didn’t have a police department when we joined; we were covered by the State Police,” Glenn Walbert, police commission chairman, said at Thursday's meeting. “We did studies on how much it would cost to run our own department. We discovered it would cost $400,000 or more if we had our own police department, and we would need a force of at least 12 officers to make it practical.”
For Lower Nazareth, according to township manager Timm Tenges, officials did a cost-benefit analysis.
“I think there was certainly a substantial cost savings from what we were paying,” Tenges said at the meeting. “But more so, we looked at the advantages of regionalizing and all of the factors in [Seiple’s] presentation, and that’s why we went regional.”
In the end, Seiple believes his department could provide Nazareth with what it needs, if the borough decided to move in that direction.
“You’re looking at a 24-man department at this point in time, you’re looking at specializing, a lot of good people, and a lot of good training,” he said. “I think we’ve proven ourselves in the 15 years since we’ve been in business.”
Council members had no comment or questions regarding Seiple's presentation.
Thomas Trachta, chief of Nazareth's police department, was not at last night's meeting due to a family obligation.
Advantages outlined in Seiple's presentation:
- Specialized training and efficiency – Seiple and Deputy Chief James DePalma are graduates of the FBI National Academy; Det. Sgt. Michael Melinsky and Sgt. John Harmon are graduates of the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety. All supervisory staff attend three different training courses, totaling 160 hours of training.
- Unified supervision and management
- Improved career enhancement and opportunities for personnel
- Cost efficient
- Consistency of enforcement services
- Improved deployment and distribution of police personnel
- Release management of department personnel from municipality
- Uniformed traffic regulations
- Rank structure
- Overlapping patrol areas
For more information on the department, a brochure is available for viewing below the photos at the top right of this article page.