Pa. town is without a police force

April 08, 1997


Staff Writer, Waynesboro

MONT ALTO, Pa. - With no police department of its own following the Mont Alto Council's dismissal of its police chief Monday, the borough will continue to rely on protection from Pennsylvania State Police until officials decide on the future of the police force.

Whether the borough will hire a replacement for ousted Police Chief Charles Mills is something that Council members and Mayor Frank Gilreath expect to discuss once the police department is organized, said Council President Tom Lowson.

"A number of things aren't in place," Lowson said. "At some point in time we will have a discussion on the police department and where we're going to go with it."


As manager of the police department, Gilreath will continue to develop a police manual for the borough, Lowson said. Gilreath, a former Maryland State Trooper, is working to acquire forms and other administrative paperwork that the department's never had, Lowson said.

Gilreath is also working on an inventory of police department assets which, to Lowson's knowledge, has never been done.

Lowson said there has been no further discussion among Council and Gilreath on the future of the police department since Mills was dismissed.

The Council had expected Mills to request a hearing at Monday's meeting in response to the administrative complaints filed against him by Gilreath, including two counts alleging neglect of duty and six counts alleging disobedience of orders.

Instead, a letter of resignation signed by Mills was handed to Lowson five minutes before the meeting by Donald Whitmore, former mayor and council president.

"We were not really prepared to take action on the issue," Lowson said.

In the letter, Mills explained his reason for resigning. "Over the past year, I have been harassed and put under extreme pressure by certain members of the now (sic) borough council and the newly appointed mayor," Mills wrote.

Mills listed several conditions in the letter including that he be provided with copies of administrative complaints filed with the Mont Alto Council, a copy of the petition signed by residents, and a copy of the rules governing employees in the borough.

Acting on the advice of Chambersburg Attorney Thomas Finucane, who was hired last month as an independent attorney to investigate the police department with Gilreath, Council members would not accept Mills' resignation and instead discharged him based on the administrative charges filed by Gilreath and Mills' failure to respond to them.

The state police agency has been responsible for police protection in the borough for the past several months.

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