Cordner explained a local police department could provide some services state police don’t provide, ranging from responding to barking dog complaints to ensuring the safety of school buses crossing railroad tracks.
“The downside is that comes with a cost,” said Cordner. “Police are expensive. I would estimate $4.5 million to $5 million if you create your own police department, which is obviously a lot of money.”
He added that “having your own police department also is an administrative burden.”
He said an advantage of being part of a regional police force would be that “you get to share the responsibility and some of the cost. You probably don’t get as high a quantity of service as if you have your own police department. Your folks would be spread a little thinner.”
Cordner said other downsides of a regional department are that Lower Macungie would not be solely in control of it, the costs are still relatively high and there is the potential for political disagreements that can cause the break-up of regional departments.
With about 31,000 residents, Cordner said Lower Macungie is one of 37 Pennsylvania townships with populations of 25,000 or greater.
He said only three of those 37 townships – including Lower Macungie -- do not have their own police departments.
Yet he said Lower Macungie’s crime rate is only about half the average for those 37 townships.
He also said the township’s crime rate is only about a third of the national average.
Cordner reported the number of more serious crimes in Lower Macungie was 289 in 2010, 329 in 201l and 332 last year. He estimated that number will be 391 this year.
“Virtually all that increase is accounted for by theft,” said Cordner.
He indicated that even if Lower Macungie creates its own police department, there probably is not a lot that can be done to stop such thefts.
He said police can do little or nothing about retail thefts inside a big box store and noted even big parking lots outside those stores are private property.
Fortunately, said Cordner, theft is a crime that usually does not physically threaten the well-being of people.
He also said crimes that do occur in the township are solved at a rate above the national average.
Cordner said even the number of people being nabbed for driving while intoxicated in the township has increased significantly.
“That’s a reflection of state police activity. I don’t think there’s a lot more drunks driving then there were two or three years ago.
State police have clearly stepped up their enforcement. You’ve had a lot of state police enforcement activity here in the township.”
Township officials formally said goodbye to two of Lower Macungie’s five commissioners at Thursday’s meeting. Both Reis and Ron Eichenberg have served four year-terms, but were defeated in their bids for re-election.
Commissioner Ryan Conrad presented the two men with plaques to thank them for their service. Conrad said it takes dedication, commitment, sacrifice and even courage to serve as a commissioner.
“You gentlemen performed well under fire and you should be proud of the accomplishments you achieved in your time on this board,” said Atty. Richard Somach, township solicitor, who noted both Reis and Eichenberg have served as president of the commissioners.
Eichenberg and Reis received a standing ovation from everyone attending the meeting.
“We serve at the pleasure of the electorate,” noted Eichenberg. “I believe as one door closes, another one opens. I just don’t know where that door will open, but I’m sure it will.”