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WEGO to Disband

Westtown Township supervisors call the disbandment of the Westtown-East Goshen Regional Police Department imminent.

The Westtown Township Supervisors met in front of a backed house on Monday night to discuss the disbandment of the Westtown-East Goshen Regional Police Department.  A move township supervisor Charles Barber described as imminent.

“Because of the inability to reach an agreement with the police union and the subsequent loss of Thornbury (Township) as a client, each board must face the reality that the only financial recourse is that the WEGO Regional Police Department will need to disband,” Barber said in a statement he read representing both the township supervisors of Westtown and East Goshen.

Barber continued, “Each township must take the necessary steps to prepare for this event.  These steps include taking an affirmative move to disband the police department.  Although members of the governing board did not desire this outcome, make no mistake endless opportunities were given to the police union to avoid this result.”

Police Association president Anthony Ruggieri disagreed with the supervisors’ characterization of the union saying that the police association had agreed to a number that was 93 percent of what the township wanted.

“You folks are unreasonable and shame on you,” Ruggieri said.  “You failed to mention all that we agreed to give back.  We gave you 93 percent, but you asked for 100.”

Resident Richard Pomerantz asked the township supervisors why they were starting the process of disbanding the police department now.

“If the union truly was ready to meet you 92 or 93 percent of the way, why now?  What’s the straw that broke the camel’s back?”  Pomerantz asked.

Westtown supervisor Tom Haws said that the township’s hands were tied.

“We have a partner in all of this,” Haws said, referring to the East Goshen Township Board of Supervisors.  “Both sides worked diligently.  We made some final offers that were rejected, and the counter offer that came back was unacceptable to both boards.”

The Westtown supervisors did not vote to disband the police department Monday night, and no timeline was given as to when the process to replace the current department would start.

The current Westtown-East Goshen police contract runs until the end of 2013.  If nothing changes, the department would be disbanded at that time.

4Honor October 02, 2012 at 10:36 AM
This is disgraceful! E Goshen has made it clear since the summer that they were trying to bust the union. The police have been dedicated and committed to this community- how will it be for them to finish their last year knowing that the supervisors were willing to throw them away because they belong to a union? That's BS. Same as the WCASD- both unions GAVE BACK but these Republicans- and that is who is doing it, they want to destroy unions. It's bad enough you screw with education, now you are screwing with the public's safety. It's BS!
Joy Crozier October 02, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Complete and utter disregard for the residents in these communities! No notice from township about these happenings at ALL! Maybe a letter or survey via mail to find out our thoughts. Maybe instead of a huge sponsored event, those sponsors would have helped the township mail out mailers to us! The supervisors do not want to answer questions from residents in fact last night, one was stated as "This is not the time for questions" Well when the hell is? We as residents deserve answers from these so called supervisors and the questions about how much is on the table that you can't agree to, the townships will NOT answer that either. SAVE WEGO! Join forces and get the word out to your neighbors, friends, www.facebook.com/ProjectHearWEGO Join local residents who want to save this department!! Completely and insanely upset with the lack of respect for residents opinions and comments last night. The supervisors not only ignored people talking, but they themselves actually sat and laughed at those who were talking, while one of the supervisors was texting on his phone. Complete POWER TRIP! Get over yourselves and help keep your residents safe!
Steven October 02, 2012 at 08:05 PM
WHile I we were never provided complete details certainly a huge change was inevitable. Westtown's police and related pension costs consume about 70% of the township's total yearly budget- huge base on any comparable metric. Moreover, the unfunded pension liability has gone parabolic over the past few years and stands no chance at bridging asset/liability gap without large contributions coupled with huge concessions. Last year Moody's the bond rating agency downgraded Westtown's debt when they refinanced sewer revenue debt using a tax payer collateralized general obligation debt and because of the bloated police budget. Radical change is necessary but even with the change (whatever that amounts to), it's probably not enough to stave off another credit downgrade. I know the financial state of many families is at stake but economic realities prevail. Sadly, I believe both the Township and the FOP are to blame. Over the years when tax revenue and township population were growing, the FOP leveraged their bargaining power while a weak Board of Supervisors just acquiesced rather than bargain. Moreover, the decision to buy a building and get in the police business was a huge failure and a big part of why the township is in the this predicament (in addition to their foray into the sewer business). SEE NEXT POST FOR FOLLOWUP
Steven October 02, 2012 at 08:05 PM
I don't think the State Police is a viable option for obvious reasons but a scaled back Westtown police force with reasonable benefits is probabaly the best case. I'd like to see a pro forma from the township depicting the cost to dismantle the current police force; the inital cost and operating budget for a new force and what plans- if any- for the police building which is still encumbered with over 2.5 million in debt. Steve from Westtown
Brendan October 03, 2012 at 03:57 AM
Steve, this is important information. Why are the township officials not willing to have this type of discussion with residents??
Steven October 04, 2012 at 12:12 AM
Brendan, in my opinion fiscal irresponsibility is something not very flattering to a politician. Westtown public officials actling like rogue entrepreneurs is how we got in this mess in the first place. I think it started with the sewage plant acquistiion and the millions pumped into that white elephant and later with the decision to get in the police business and the subsequent construction of a 4 plus million dollar building.
Steven October 04, 2012 at 12:28 AM
The current Board of Supervisors inherited a real problem in the face of a tepid economic backdrop. Financial problems tend to manifest themselves when the music (revenue) stops; in this case it's no different. Westtown's problems are in large measure a microcosm of what's occuring across the US at the state and local level. The police and related pension is also an issue since it consumes way too much of the budget. The $6 mil pension liability stands little chance of narrowing without serious cuts and overfunding. I believe a 2notch debt downgrade is imminent, which means higher borrowing costs for planned township infrastructure spending.
Steven October 04, 2012 at 12:39 AM
Westtown officials are not oblivious to the financial predicament and recently hired Sam Katz's company PFM to evaluate strategic options with WEGO. No one wants to see police unemployed but draconian cuts are necessary. I attended the meeting on 10/01 and it was stated the FOP was giving up 300k a year in the bargaining,,,honestly that's a drop in the bucket given the size of the budget, pension and given the fact that Thornbury will not renew services with WEGO
Kelly Rynn October 05, 2012 at 12:39 AM
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Kelly Rynn October 05, 2012 at 12:42 AM
Maybe if you all read the patch blurb from earlier this month of the type of arrests being made in the borough, you may not be as concerned, sounds like the manpower from borough police can help out if needed in WEGO See below: Stats: West Chester Police made 68 arrests from Sept. 3-9. Those arrests break down by the following offenses: Underage Drinking: 20 Public Drunkenness: 16 Noise: 4 Disorderly Conduct 5 Harassment: 4 Criminal Mischief 1 Open Container: 16 Assault: 1 Drugs: 9 DUI: 3 Public Indecency: 10 Littering: 2
busboy October 05, 2012 at 02:48 AM
Can anyone give clarification here from the F.O. P. Bret Binder's Press Release: http://westchester.patch.com/blog_posts/binder-calls-on-truitt-to-retract-his-police-endorsement-release Dan Truitt Press Release: http://westchester.patch.com/blog_posts/truitt-campaign
Kelly Rynn October 05, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Thank you Steven for noting that policing these days and especially in chester county is a BUSINESS

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