Lehigh Valley

Township decides to police its own; department's future in question

Township to police its own; department's future in question

UPPER MACUNGIE TWP., Pa. - It's official. The Berks-Lehigh Regional Police Department will be losing its largest municipality.

Supevisors of Upper Macungie Twp., Lehigh Co., voted Thursday night to start the township's own police force and hire a police chief.

One of the major issues the township has had with the BLRPD is the allocation of expenses, said Kathy Rader, a township supervisor.

Upper Macungie pays about 75 percent of the regional police department's budget, but has only one vote on the police commission, the same as the other municipalities, which pay significantly less.

So what does the future hold for the Berks-Lehigh department, which started in 2001?

"I find it rather disgusting because I thought we had a real good thing going," said Mayor Randy Schlegel, Lyons, Berks Co.

Schlegel said there are nothing but unanswered questions regarding the future of the department.

Upper Macungie is not only the largest of the department's four municipalities, it is also its largest money provider.

Schlegel said he hopes the force can pull it together and go back to what started as the Northeast Berks Regional Department.

"Perhaps we need to get the three original, Topton, Maxatawny and Lyons, together as a regional system again, and then perhaps go looking for other municipalities that may want to come along," said Schlegel.

Upper Macungie joined in 2001. Now, with the township's departure set for the end of the year, Schlegel said there is a chance the regional department can fold all together. If that happens, Schlegel said Lyons would consider going with state police protection.

Officials in Maxatawny Township said things are also up in the air right now. There are rumors the township will consider contracting for police service, or possibly form its own force.

All three municipalities said they are reviewing their options right now, but as far as a concrete plan regarding the future, Schlegel said nothing has been discussed.

"I'm hoping by the end of this month I'll be able to contact the other municipalities and hopefully we can come together and see what we're going to do," said Schlegel.

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