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The steering committee for a proposed regional police department for North Cornwall and North Lebanon townships reviewed an updated version of the department’s charter Thursday.

From left to right: North Cornwall Township manager Justin Thompson, North Cornwall police chief Harry Ward, North Lebanon police chief Tim Knight, North Lebanon Township manager Lori Books, North Lebanon Township supervisors Gary Heisey and Ardy Snook, and North Cornwall Township supervisors Mike Wahmann and Ron Sell. (Photos by Emily Bixler)

At previous meetings, the committee, made up of members from both townships’ boards of supervisors, reviewed the full text of the charter and made changes, both cosmetic and foundational.

Read More: Committee begins to review charter for regional police in N. Cornwall, N. Lebanon

Below is a PDF of the updated draft, with changes made in red.

The most major change made to the original charter’s draft is financing.

The revised draft has funding apportioned 50/50 between the two townships, with apportionment to be revisited if other municipalities joined the charter.

Read More: N. Cornwall, N. Lebanon agree to 50/50 split for proposed regional police charter

For the most part, the council did not make many changes to the updated charter Thursday.

One such change (not included in the above PDF) was that a 1.5 percent late fee will be charged to a municipality that fails to make its monthly payment within 10 days of the start of the month.

Another change, suggested by North Lebanon police chief Tim Knight, is that a township must to give 24 months’ notice for dissolution, rather than the 15 months stated in the draft.

The committee heard comments from the public following its review of the charter, and several residents raised concerns.

One concern was that the townships both employ the same labor attorney. Committee members said that, since the labor attorney is primarily reviewing the charter for legality, this should not be an issue.

Resident Todd Dissinger referenced the data in the DCED study conducted prior to the formation of the steering committee.

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

North Cornwall supervisor Mike Wahmann, who led the meeting, said that, as the study was conducted by professionals out of the area, he expects that costs will be significantly lower than the DCED study estimated.

Dissinger criticized the townships for failing to adequately communicate details about the regionalization and the study, saying he spent hours reviewing the study only to be told not to take it too seriously.

Todd Dissinger speaks Thursday.

Several residents questioned the 10- or 12-hour officer shifts that are being considered for regionalization.

“I’ve spoken to the officers from Lebanon City and they love the fact that they get more time of by working twelves,” said Wahmann, noting that with 12-hour shifts, officers get four days off per week.

North Cornwall supervisor Mike Wahmann speaks at Thursday meeting, with fellow supervisor Ron Sell to his right.

North Cornwall patrolman Paul Savini said that he has 10-hour shifts now, which he prefers to eight-hour shifts.

Officer Paul Savini attends Thursday’s meeting.

“Normally, with the eight-hour schedule, you’re just working so many shifts in a row, that’s the killer,” he said. “On top of that, it’s a rotation from first to second to third and somewhere back again, and that’s the part that hurts.

“Not that you won’t rotate shifts with a 12-hour schedule, however the theory is that there’s less rotation. A lot of officers that I know are in 12-hour schedules and they like them.”

North Lebanon supervisor Ardy Snook said that, prior to adopting a 12-hour schedule for officers, he hopes the township can try a trial run of these shifts to test their efficacy, as well as see as whether officers are still in support.

North Lebanon Township manager Lori Books and North Lebanon Township supervisors Gary Heisey and Ardy Snook.

Wahmann also mentioned during public comment that he’s heard false rumors concerning the regionalization efforts.

“I’ve heard a rumor that the purpose of this is that certain people are going to be fired,” said Wahmann. “Let me tell you that it’s already written in the contract that all employees currently at North Lebanon township police department and North Cornwall township police department will be the basis of which this Lebanon county regional police department will be formulated.”

Wahmann went on to clarify that officials with ranks in both departments will maintain their ranks.

Not all residents were in opposition. North Lebanon resident Mike Webster, who has been attending steering meetings without commenting his opinion thus far, voiced his support for regionalization.

Mike Webster voices his support for regionalization.

“I think it’s a very great idea — Not to say that we won’t have hiccups, we won’t have issues that we don’t agree on, I’m sure there’s going to be something that comes along that I won’t like,” said Webster. “But if it’s for the better of the township, more cars on the street, we only have one chief instead of two, I think the officers will be safer.

“They stood up and said at the LGI meeting at Union Canal, they’re all on board for this.”

The next step for the committee is for the charter to be reviewed by a labor attorney, before it is edited if needed and re-reviewed by the steering committee.

The regional police department is not a done deal as of now; the goal of the steering committee is to consider details and feasibility of regionalization before presenting a proposal to both boards of supervisors, as North Lebanon supervisor Gary Heisey noted at this month’s board meeting.

Read More: North Lebanon Township supervisors advertise for 2024 paving

At that point, both boards of supervisors will hold public hearings before voting to determine whether regionalization is undergone.

If either board votes against regionalization, it will not take place.

There is no set timeframe, but the steering committee has three more meetings scheduled, after which it will decide whether to hold more meetings or propose to the boards.

The next meeting will be held March 7 at the North Lebanon Township building at 6 p.m.

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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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