Kennett Square officials discuss regional policing study
By Steven Hoffman
Kennett Square Borough officials, including members of borough council, now have a copy of the preliminary feasibility study regarding the establishment of a regional police force in the area. At the Oct. 20 council meeting, Kennett Square officials said that they need much more information about how a regional police force would look and function.
Kennett Square Borough Council President Leon Spencer noted that a move to a regional police force is complex because it would involve figuring out the best way to provide policing services for four municipalities and more than 35,000 residents.
The feasibility study, which was prepared by the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED), will provide the framework for discussions between officials from the four participating municipalities—Kennett Square Borough, New Garden Township, Kennett Township, and London Grove Township.
“I think we got some good information from the study,” said Kennett Square Mayor Matthew Fetick.
Fetick noted that the preliminary study seemed to indicate that police service levels for the borough would be reduced after a switch to a regional police force, and that was a cause for concern.
“In my opinion, it would diminish services,” Fetick said.
Spencer echoed Fetick's concerns that police services would be reduced with a switch to a regional police force. He said that he wouldn't want residents to feel like they were receiving less police coverage than current levels. Spencer also said that he was worried about whether the switch would mean that residents would no longer feel like they are familiar with their own police officers.
Fetick explained that, in his opinion, Kennett Square would either have to see a significant reduction in how much it costs the borough to provide police protection or an increase in the amount of police coverage that will be provided in order for him to believe that a move to a regional police force is a good idea.
“I think we have a great police department that covers us very well,” Fetick said.
Officials said that they want more information so that they can make the best decision for the residents of Kennett Square.
“Personally, I don't have enough information right now to feel like this is the best for our community,” said Kennett Square Police Chief Edward Zunino. The police chief added that he would like to talk to representatives from other communities that have already transitioned from a municipal police force to a regional police force to learn about some things that those communities encountered as a result of the change.
Zunino said that the next stage of the process would be to move into working groups for each community, where specific details about budgeting, staffing, and scheduling could be discussed. He said that a great deal of fact-finding needs to take place in this next step in the process, which will extend into 2015. One goal would be to have the DCED meet with officials and the public. Officials said that they definitely want to include the public in discussions as the process moves forward.