Regional police unit reports to Warwick
BY LAURA KNOWLES, Correspondent
The new Northern Lancaster County Regional Police Department has embraced change -- and quickly.
Police Chief David Steffen reported March 20 to Warwick Township supervisors about the year since the regional police department merged Warwick Township, Penn Township and Clay Township police departments.
The changes include a new location on Durlach Road in Stevens, a new logo, new uniforms, new police vehicle design and a new website -- all in just over a year.
Steffen said the department improved police service and saved money by increasing staffing levels, creating specialized services, reducing and eliminating duplicated services, standardizing policy and using technology as well as bolstering criminal response capability and public outreach.
Steffen reported that the clearance rate for serious crimes was 40 percent, compared to a national average of 13 percent to 17 percent. He also noted that response time varied, depending on the seriousness of the situation. For a serious call, such as a car accident with injuries, the response time averaged seven minutes. Less serious incidents, such as mailbox smashing or noise complaints, might average 14 minutes.
"Not everything is a dire emergency," Steffen said, noting that the department responds to calls based on how serious or life-threatening the situation may be.
Steffen also reported that in 2012, costs were divvied up among the three townships depending on police hours.
There was one significant crime in Clay Township that involved a long police investigation of a home invasion by a young man, who tied up and beat several older women in a home he had targeted.
Steffen noted that the department service area totaled 32,000 residents, and that police officers operated out of their vehicles as they patrolled the area. Initial concerns that police would be responding more slowly because of relocating the office in Stevens have proved to be unfounded.
"Our officers have more visibility because they work from their vehicles," said Steffen.
The 2012 report indicated that there had been a total of 13,818 incidents reported. Of those, 1,021 were traffic citations, 534 were crash reports, 102 nontraffic citations, 154 misdemeanors, 55 felonies and 8,342 incident reports.
"I have been very impressed with the way the department has come together as a team," Steffen said.
The department has held numerous community events, such as bicycle rodeos and attending the recent Penryn Mud Sale, improving their public visibility and creating a cooperative relationship with the community.
Some of the best officers have been the members of the K-9 unit, which includes the recently retired German Shepherd Aiko and his replacement Ringo. Both dogs are handled by human K-9 officer Gary Garrison, who was involved in the unit since it was started in Warwick Township.
"It costs about $12,000 to operate the K-9 unit," said Steffen, adding that the benefits far exceeded the costs.
In other business, public works supervisor Dean Saylor reported that the winter season should turn out to be close to average. With several smaller storms and icy conditions, road crews had many salt runs as opposed to a large number of plowable storms.
For more Warwick area news, visit: