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Washington Township police officer hiring sparks debate

Board gives tentative OK to increasing size of force

Board gives tentative OK to increasing size of force

December 04, 2007|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The Washington Township (Pa.) Police Department's chief has been authorized to hire Bryan Chappell Jr., an officer currently with the Borough of Waynesboro's department.

Chappell, who would bring Washington Township's complement to 15, is the son of a Washington Township officer. The Washington Township Supervisors voted 4-0 Monday to hire Chappell, with Supervisor John Gorman absent from the meeting.

A divided board of supervisors has given tentative approval to increasing the force to 17 officers in 2008. Their preliminary budget, scheduled to be finalized Dec. 17, has $4.8 million in expenditures associated with the general fund.

Of that, $1.1 million is allocated to the police department. That figure does not include insurance or benefits for the staff, township officials said Monday.

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With insurance and benefits, the police department would account for just less than one-third of the 2008 budget's general fund, Township Manager Mike Christopher said.

"Just how far are we going to go with this?" asked Jim Kirby, a former township supervisor.

Kirby said he is grateful for the work of police in the township, but he has concerns about ongoing increases in the department's budget.

"It seems like it's getting to be a big, big number when there are a lot of other things going on in the township, I think," Kirby said.

"Our activity is extremely high, and we could use the additional personnel to deal with the calls," Police Chief Barry Keller said.

The number of adults arrested has increased 55 percent over this time last year, Keller said. That means officers are spending more time in court, he said.

The supervisors' vote to approve the preliminary budget on Nov. 19 was 3-2, with Christopher Firme and Gorman saying they would support one additional officer in 2008, but not two.

The starting salary for a patrol officer in 2007 is $40,290.




On the Web:



Washington Township's preliminary budget: www.washtwp-franklin.org

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