Jul 28, 2014
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Upper Macungie Votes to Leave Berks-Lehigh Police

Upper Macungie supervisors vote to create a new police force and leave the service of Berks-Lehigh Regional.

Upper Macungie Votes to Leave Berks-Lehigh Police Upper Macungie Votes to Leave Berks-Lehigh Police

voted to leave membership in the Berks-Lehigh Regional Police to form a new force that will serve the township.

"It's a big step we're taking," said Samir P. Ashmar, supervisor vice-chairman  who called for the motions.

The township will search for a Police Chief to help build the force and severe its ties from Berks-Lehigh by the end of the year.

Upper Macungie Township currently pays more than $2.6 million for police protection from the . The three other Berks County municipalities covered by the department – Maxatawny Township, Topton Borough and Lyons Borough – pay significantly less.

Currently, each municipality has a 25 percent voting interest. Upper Macungie supervisors wanted voting rights that were propotional with the amount of money the township pay. But the commission could not agree.

As a result, Township Supervisors voted unanimously March 1 to establish a police department and hire a police chief to set it up.

"I'm excited about it," Ashmar said. "This allows us to adjust to the growing needs of our community. Our population has grown and it's advantageous of us to provide more accurate and timely responses."

A meeting has been scheduled for 6 p.m. March 22 for supervisors to further discuss police matters. One of them is regarding police pensions.

Ashmar said the new police chief would come in basically as a consultant, not law enforcement, to run the department's administration and interview prospective officers.

"The chief will start the hiring process and the transition period," he said.

There was no timetable set in terms of hiring the police chief.

When one resident asked if the move was official, Ashmar responded: "We're definitely splitting. Dec. 31 is the date."

In regards to The Berks-Lehigh Regional Police Commission, Supervisors Chairman Edward J. Earley said he didn't know if the commission would continue or dissolve without UMT's representation or whether other municipalities would withdraw.

Afterward, Earley said he wasn't pleased with the township's decision to create its own force.

"I had voted against withdrawing," said the police commission member. "It is what it is. But it's a done deal."

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