Coronavirus news conference

Lancaster County Commissioner Josh Parsons talks about planning to respond to COVID-19 during a news conference at the Lancaster County Public Safety Training Center Thursday, March 12, 2020.

Lancaster County Commissioner Josh Parsons sought “retribution” against local police chiefs who publicly criticized the board over how it funds the drug task force, a group of law-enforcement officials has alleged.

In at least once instance, Parsons asked a township official to discipline a police chief who was openly critical of the three-member county board, the Lancaster County Chiefs of Police Association alleged in a letter obtained by LNP | LancasterOnline.

Parsons denied the allegation and said he was merely trying to call attention to what he described as unprofessional conduct by the chief. But the police chiefs characterized his call as an attempt to seek retribution against his critics.

“Our association finds your actions were beyond the duties and scope of the Commissioners’ duties and views your communications to municipal leaders as minimally bullying or corrupt actions by an elected official,” the letter, delivered to Parsons in January, stated.

Chiefs of Police Letter to Parsons by Carter Walker on Scribd

East Earl Police Chief Kevin McCarthy, president of the association, declined to comment. The association’s membership includes more than two dozen law enforcement agencies.

The letter stated that Parsons began contacting township supervisors after a contentious Oct. 29 budget meeting between the commissioners and then-District Attorney Craig Stedman. At the meeting, several police chiefs called on the commissioners to provide more money for the drug task force.

West Lampeter Township Police Chief Brian Wiczkowski was among the chiefs who spoke at the meeting. He said the commissioners were merely “talking in platitudes” about funding for the drug task force, and he urged them to “fix it.”

"I just heard a soliloquy of attacks, frankly, and it was disappointing,” Wiczkowski told WGAL in an interview after the meeting. "I was not expecting that. I'm upset. I'm angry. I'm disappointed. I'm confused."

After the televised interview, Parsons called a West Lampeter Township supervisor, Terry Kauffman. Parsons denied the association’s claim that he asked Kauffman to discipline the West Lampeter police chief and instead said that he wanted to call attention to this chief’s unprofessional conduct.

“I further stated that we have no problem with criticism, but the repeated and false nature of the attacks was unhelpful,” Parsons wrote.

Parsons Letter to Lancaster County Chiefs of Police Association by Carter Walker on Scribd

Kauffman, whose term expired at the end of 2019, said in an interview last week that Parsons did not directly ask him to fire or discipline the chief but he “certainly” wanted the board of supervisors to stop the chief from making negative comments.

Kauffman, a former county commissioner, didn’t go as far as to say the conversation was inappropriate, but said “having sat in that chair it’s not a call I would have made.”

Wiczkowski did not return calls seeking comment.