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Petition Drive Begins in Support of Shared Police Force in Rural Montgomery County

A petition drive in support of a locally shared police department is underway in East Greenville, where borough officials have proposed leaving the Upper Perkiomen Police Commission. The mayor, meanwhile, said leaving the commission has been pushed back.

A Montgomery County man rounded up signatures this weekend from East Greenville residents who want to remain in a shared police department.

Lon Brinckman, a 38-year-old borough resident, canvassed along Main Street with a handful of volunteers Saturday as a plan remains on the table for East Greenville to exit the Upper Perkiomen Police Commission.

Demise of the commission would end four decades of shared policing between East Greenville and Pennsburg, two neighboring boroughs in northwest Montgomery County with a combined population of about 6,800.

“[City Council] basically told us, ‘You’re not the majority; you’re just the loudest.’ So this petition will hopefully address what the majority actually has to say about the Council and Mayor’s decision,” said the former volunteer firefighter of 17 years.

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Borough Mayor Ryan Sloyer has been the biggest proponent of leaving the commission. He has said annual costs to East Greenville continue to grow and a cheaper alternative would be to create a police force of their own.

But Sloyer said Tuesday that pulling out of the commission has been pushed back to June 1 as officials from both boroughs have entered into mediation. The hope, Sloyer said, is that the boroughs can resolve their differences and the commission will remain.

“We’ve had one mediation already,” he said. “There will be another meeting sometime in January.”

Borough Council meetings earlier this fall became shouting matches between taxpayers, who believe the commission should remain, and Sloyer and his supporters on Council, who voted to leave the commission.

Brinckman said his petition efforts netted more than 120 signatures of people in favor of keeping the Upper Perk PD in East Greenville.

He said one of the biggest concerns is police response time if a new department is formed and state police coverage is used to cover some times during the week.

“We’d be without [our own] police 25% of the time. If a major incident occurs [during that time], there would be no one to help us,” he said.

Sloyer proposed a plan two months ago to create a borough police force that would consist of a chief, an officer and two or three part-time officers. The five-man department put forth by the mayor would not only diminishes the quality of safety, but the quality of service, Brinckman said.

“All our current officers are seasoned and fully invested in the community. No officer is going to want to work part-time-- so we’re going to have a lot of [inexperienced] or nearing-retirement officers.”

Brinckman plans to present the petition to East Greenville City Council no later than their second monthly meeting on Jan. 25, 2017.

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