The regional police development committee between North Cornwall and North Lebanon townships held a meeting to iron out details for a regional police proposal Wednesday, Dec. 13.

The committee was created in October to consider next steps for if the townships ultimately decide to merge police departments.

As of now, the townships have not agreed to form a regional police department, and even when a proposal is presented to them they may not agree to pass it.

The idea has been under consideration for much of this year, partially due to understaffing at North Lebanon Township Police Department (NLTPD).

Read More: North Lebanon Township supervisors consider regional police with N. Cornwall

In attendance Wednesday were district director Daniel Bost of state Senator Chris Gebhard’s office, North Cornwall public works director Justin Thompson, North Cornwall township manager Thomas Long, North Cornwall supervisors Ronald Sell and Mike Wahmann, North Cornwall chief of police Harry Ward, North Lebanon chief of police Tim Knight, North Lebanon supervisor Ardy Snook (Gary Heisey is also on the committee but was not present), and North Lebanon township manager Lori Books.

Knight, who would become the head chief if regionalization occurred, developed a draft of a charter following the committee’s Nov. 16 meeting.

The draft is based on charters of other regionalized police forces, including Northern Lancaster, Western Lebanon, and York County.

The committee went through the document article by article to address the concerns of participants.

Article One names the department the Lebanon County Regional Police Department, and none in attendance voiced opposition to that name.

Article Two establishes the charter’s purpose; to establish a regional police department. No attendees had any questions or concerns.

Article Three concerns jurisdiction and authority for the police department. Officers and civilian personnel would report to the chief of police, who would report to the Regional Police Commission.

Books mentioned that this chain of command would have Knight’s wife working as his subordinate, an issue that Long suggested referring to a lawyer for guidance.

Article Four establishes police district boundaries.

Long suggested that down the line, the townships could standardize some of their ordinances enforceable by police, including vegetation and noise ordinances, so that officers could have consistency.

Article Five establishes the details of the Regional Police Commission.

The committee, made up of two North Lebanon supervisors, two North Cornwall supervisors, and one at-large member would meet monthly. The at-large member would serve one-year terms and would be selected by alternating townships, beginning with North Lebanon.

Said member could not be an employee of the department — or other township employees participating, as was added Wednesday.

Article Six details the commission’s meetings, and what those meetings would entail.

Article Seven drew the most discussion from attendees, and was also where the meeting left off. This section concerns apportionment, including how the budget is distributed between townships.

The draft has operating expenses apportioned using the police protection unit, or PPU. Each PPU represents an amount of officer time, with the townships contributing based on amount of these units used toward them.

A draft of the charter can be seen below. Note that the charter is only a draft and is likely to change before being presented to the townships for final consideration.

Wahmann said that he doesn’t believe a PPU system is the best way to start the department. He suggested, at least for the first three years of the department, having the departments contribute based on the population of each township.

North Lebanon has around 12,000 residents and North Cornwall has around 8,000.

Snook voiced opposition to the per capita model, noting that North Lebanon currently spends less on police per capita than North Cornwall does.

Wahmann responded that North Lebanon’s budget is lower primarily because it is understaffed; with North Lebanon having 12 officers to North Cornwall’s 11.

The committee agreed that, in preparation for the next meeting, Knight will compile information from the last two to three years about amount of calls in both townships to inform budget decisions.

While the apportionment would be more convoluted this way from an administrative standpoint, township contributions can be determined based on amount of calls.

The committee will follow up on this discussion at its next meeting Jan. 25. The meeting will be held at the North Cornwall Township Administrative Building, at 330 S. 18th St.

Editor’s note: This article was updated after publication to include a copy of the draft charter.

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Emily Bixler was born and raised in Lebanon and now reports on local government. In her free time, she enjoys playing piano and going for hikes.


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